Andrew Sachs: Fawlty Towers actor dies aged 86

Actor known for his role as Manuel the hapless Spanish waiter had battled dementia for four years

Caroline Mortimer
Thursday 01 December 2016 23:40
Andrew Sachs at an event in London in 2012
Andrew Sachs at an event in London in 2012

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs has died at the age of 86 following a four-year battle with dementia.

The actor, who was best known for his portrayal of put-upon Spanish waiter Manuel in the 1970s sitcom, died in a care home last week and was buried on Thursday.

His wife of 56 years who cared for him in his later years, Melody, told the Daily Mail: "My heart has been broken every day for a long time".

Ms Sachs said he had first been diagnosed with dementia in 2012 but had continued to work for a further two years before his illness became too much.

She revealed she had suffered from acute stress while caring for him and was briefly admitted to hospital but said they remained happily married until the end.

She said: "It wasn’t all doom and gloom, he still worked for two years.

"We were happy, we were always laughing, we never had a dull moment. He had dementia for four years and we didn’t really notice it at first until the memory started going.

"It didn’t get really bad until quite near the end. I nursed Andrew, I was there for every moment of it."

She said "dementia is the most awful illness" that "sneaks in in the night when you least expect it".

Sachs, who was born in Berlin in 1930 to a Roman Catholic mother and a Jewish father, had a long and successful career in British TV.

He started out performing in radio productions for the BBC in the late 1950s before making his screen debut in the 1959 film The Night We Dropped a Clanger.

The actor, who came in Britain with his family in 1938 after escaping Nazi persecution, was best known for his work as Manuel in the sitcom starring John Cleese as the hapless owner of a fictional hotel in Torquay.

He later found success with starring roles in Coronation Street and as a narrator on many TV documentaries.

Sachs was unwittingly embroiled in a major controversy in 2008 when presenters Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left messages on his answer machine where Brand boasted he had had sex with his granddaughter, a burlesque dancer, which was later broadcast on his BBC Radio 2 show.

In the furore that followed, Brand and the Controller of Radio 2, Lesley Douglas, resigned from the BBC. Ross was suspended without pay for 12 weeks.

The BBC was later fined £150,000 by Ofcom and the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it "clearly inappropriate and unacceptable".

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