Grow up, grandpa: Years after 'Sachsgate', Andrew Sachs reveals he is still not talking to his granddaughter

It's time to forgive and forget, says Rosie Millard – the rest of us all have

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If you are a public figure, there are several ways available to market your autobiography. One is to talk about the highlights of your life. The other is to talk about the lowlights, with a sort of pained duty, as if they were a bedsore that just won't go away.

This is the path that Andrew Sachs is taking to promote his book I Know Nothing. Not content with stories from his wonderful career, his Jewish German ancestry, comic moments on Fawlty Towers, etc, Sachs is yet again hauling us all through the terrible moment when Ross, J and Brand, R chose to ring him up and leave a teasing message about his granddaughter Georgina Baillie on his answering machine, and then replay the incident on BBC Radio 2.

Not a great moment in the career of either man, but according to Sachs, this "diabolical" act was the worst thing that has ever happened to his family. "It was worse than the Nazis," he told one newspaper this week. Really? A radio prank, worse than your entire family fleeing Berlin in 1938? Apparently so. Or was it last week that he spoke about it, in another paper? Perhaps it was both, since Sachs has been banging on about this gross infamy to as many journalists as he can manage.

Well, Andrew, I have news for you. We don't care any more about it. The perpetrators were punished. Someone at Radio 2 fell on her sword. Er, that's it. Nobody thinks it is akin to the Nazis. Barely anyone thinks it is disgusting. Nobody thinks anything, because the world has moved on. Ross is still on television. The Radio 2 boss has a new deal with the BBC. Brand is on Question Time.

It is only Sachs and his wife Melody who have failed to progress. Six years on, Georgina is still out on the cold. "We don't see her any more", he says, grandly. He and Melody have cut their granddaughter off – for her (inadvertent) role in an act apparently as bad as the Holocaust.

"They talk about it all the time," moans Melody (in another national newspaper) about Brand and Ross. No, love. You and your husband do. Eventually, it's going to be the only thing that anyone will say about you both, because it's the only thing you seem to care about.

Russell Brand (left) and Jonathan Ross left a teasing message about Sachs' granddaughter on his answering machine (Getty Images) Russell Brand (left) and Jonathan Ross left a teasing message about Sachs' granddaughter on his answering machine (Getty Images)
 

I interviewed Baillie after the incident. She struck me as a young girl finding her way in life. So what if she was in a Goth-rock band and a bit burlesque with it? So what if she hopped into bed with Russell Brand? People do quirky things. Old enough to have a life of her own but young enough to remember, Baillie told me, with longing and love, about the wonderful Christmasses that Grandma and Grandad Sachs used to put on for her and her siblings, when their house was transformed into a Winter Wonderland.

She was clearly dazzled by Grandpa's fame and Grandma's glamour. Maybe that was their motive. Maybe the big, famous couple were more keen on impressing the grandchildren than really loving them. When she was humiliated on national radio, the first and only thing Sachs ought to have done was to put his arms around his granddaughter. Not spurn her.

As her father Charles indignantly stated this week, in a letter to The Times, Georgina has made many attempts to mend broken fences. Her grandparents have stubbornly refused to acknowledge them. Perhaps worst of all, she was invited to Melody's 80th birthday knees-up (at The Ivy, of course), and then de-invited.

It sounds churlish to tell a man in his eighties to grow up, but really. For God's sake, man. As John Cleese said to Sachs on set once, when he had the temerity to complain about being hit a bit too hard by Basil Fawlty: "Pull yourself together and I'll buy you another Babycham."

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