Fawlty Towers’ Manuel actor Andrew Sachs dies aged 86

Andrew Sachs, who was best known for his role as the bemused Spanish waiter, passed away after a secret four year battle with dementia

LAST UPDATED: 2 Dec, 2016 @ 13:47
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Manuel from Fawlty Towers and actor Andrew Sachs
Manuel from Fawlty Towers and actor Andrew Sachs

THE MUCH-loved actor behind Fawlty Towers’ Manuel has died aged 86.

Andrew Sachs, who was best known for his role as the bemused Spanish waiter, passed away after a secret four year battle with dementia.

Sachs created a cult following through his portrayal of the inept but well-meaning Manuel from Barcelona, who became involved in farce after farce in the hotel-based BBC 2 comedy.

He starred in most of the 12 episodes aired in 1975 and 1979, where he became a household name due to Manuel’s antics and simple, yet memorable sayings of  “que” and “I know nothing.”

Manuel and Basil Fawlty
Manuel and Basil Fawlty

Fans will fondly remember some of Sachs’ best moments as Manuel, such as when he tried to hide a dead hotel guest in a laundry basket with hotel owner Basil, played by John Clease.

Other great moments include the moment Manuel’s pet rat was accidentally let loose in the hotel when a health inspector arrived and the slapstick scene in which Manuel accidentally started a fire in the kitchen, culminating in him being hit on the head with a frying pan.

The latter actually caused Sachs to be almost knocked unconscious, as a result of Cleese picking up the real object and not the rubber-coated prop.

Manuel in a Fawlty Towers scene
Manuel in a Fawlty Towers scene

But not everyone was a fan of Sachs’ less than flattering portrayl of a Spaniard.

His nationality was switched to Italian in the Spanish dub version of the show, while on Catalonian TV3, Manuel was said to come from Mexico and given a Mexican accent.

In an interview on this morning’s Today programme on Radio 4, Cleese revealed that Sachs initially wanted to play his Fawlty Towers’ role as a German as he feared he could not do a Spanish accent.

Commenting on his death on Twitter, Cleese said:

Sachs, whose family fled to Britain to flee Nazis in Berlin, also took on other roles in TV, radio dramas and theatre.

In 2008, he became the centre of national sympathy after a series of insulting messages left by comedians Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on his answering machine.

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