Andreas Siegfried Sachs (7 April 1930 – 23 November 2016), known professionally as Andrew Sachs, was a German-born British actor. He made his name on British television and found his greatest fame for his portrayal of the comical Spanish waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers.

Andrew Sachs
Sachs in London, 2004
Andreas Siegfried Sachs

(1930-04-07)7 April 1930
Died23 November 2016(2016-11-23) (aged 86)
  • Actor
  • writer
Years active1959–2016
Melody Lang
(m. 1960)
Children3, including John

Sachs had a long career in acting and voice-over work for television, film and radio. He was successful well into his eighties, with roles in numerous films such as Quartet, and as Ramsay Clegg in Coronation Street.

Early life edit

Sachs was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Katharina (née Schrott-Fiecht), a librarian, and Hans Emil Sachs, an insurance broker.[1][2][3] His father was Jewish and his mother was Lutheran, with Austrian ancestry.[4] The family moved to Britain in 1938 to escape the Nazis.[5][6] They settled in north London,[1] and he lived in Kilburn for the rest of his life.[7]

In 1960, Sachs married the actress, writer, and fashion designer Melody Lang, who took his surname.[8] He adopted her two sons from a previous marriage, who became known as John Sachs and William Sachs, and the couple had one daughter, Kate Sachs, in 1961.[9] Lang appeared in one episode of Fawlty Towers, "Basil the Rat", as Mrs. Taylor.

Career edit

Early work edit

In the late 1950s, whilst still studying shipping management at college, Sachs worked on radio productions, including Private Dreams and Public Nightmares by Frederick Bradnum, an early experimental programme made by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.[10]

Sachs's first film appearance was as a schoolboy in Hue and Cry, Ealing comedies first film in 1947. He began in acting with repertory theatre and made his West End debut as Grobchick in the 1958 production of the Whitehall farce Simple Spymen.[11] He made his screen debut in 1959 in the film The Night We Dropped a Clanger.[12] He then appeared in numerous television series throughout the 1960s, including some appearances in ITC productions such as The Saint (1962) and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969).[13]

Fawlty Towers edit

Sachs is best known for portraying Manuel, the Spanish waiter in the iconic sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975 and 1979), a role for which he was nominated for a BAFTA award[14] (the award went to co-star John Cleese).[15] He claimed in 1981 that Manuel was "really a very small part. In fact there was only one episode of Fawlty Towers – the one with the hamster – in which I had anything much to do."[16]

Sachs recorded three singles in character as Manuel; the first was "Manuel's Good Food Guide" in 1977, in which he appeared, in character, on the cover. Sachs was co-author of the tracks.[17] This was followed in 1979 by "O Cheryl" with "Ode to England" on the B side, under the name "Manuel and Los Por Favors".[17] Sachs shares the writing credits for the B side with "B. Wade", who also wrote the A side.[18] In 1981, at the urging of Elton John, "Manuel" released a cover version of Joe Dolce's worldwide hit "Shaddap You Face", with "Waiter, there's a Flea in my Soup" on the B side.[19] When finally released it reached 138 in the UK Chart.[17] Dolce prohibited Sachs from releasing his version until the original had been a hit.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1980, when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews while making a personal appearance as Manuel at the HMV store on London's Oxford Street.[citation needed]

Sachs, who had himself experienced life as a 'foreigner' in Britain, denied allegations that the character was based on racist stereotypes, arguing that Manuel could have been any 'foreign' worker.[20]

During the shooting of the Fawlty Towers episode "The Germans", Sachs was left with second degree acid burns due to a fire stunt. He was also hit with a faulty prop on the set of the show by Cleese and suffered a severe headache.[21]

Voice work and narration edit

Sachs was frequently heard as a narrator of television and radio documentaries, including all five series of BBC's BAFTA Award-winning business television series Troubleshooter presented by Sir John Harvey-Jones[13] and ITV's ...from Hell series.[22] He also narrated several audio books, including C. S. Lewis's Narnia series and Alexander McCall Smith's first online book, Corduroy Mansions,[23] as well as two audiobooks of the popular children's TV series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends "Thomas and the Tiger" and "Thomas and the Dinosaur".[24] He provided the voice of Puzzle the Donkey in the Focus on the Family production of The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis. In 2000, Sachs narrated the spoof documentary series That Peter Kay Thing.[25] He also narrated the documentary series Eyewitness, based on the children's books of the same name.

Sachs performed all the voices in the English-language version of Jan Švankmajer's 1994 film Faust.[26] He also did voices for children's animation, including William's Wish Wellingtons,[27] Starhill Ponies,[28] The Gingerbread Man,[29] Little Grey Rabbit,[30] The Forgotten Toys,[31] Asterix and the Big Fight.[11] and the horse in the English-language version of 1970's cult TV show Monkey.

Roles for radio include G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown, 1984–1986,[32] Dr. John Watson in four series of original Sherlock Holmes stories for BBC Radio 4,[33] Jeeves in The Code of the Woosters,[34] Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo on BBC Radio 7's "Young Classics" series,[35] Snowy in The Adventures of Tintin, and Tooley in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.[36]

Later work edit

Although no other role gained him the same attention as Manuel, Sachs continued to star in a range of productions, both comedic and dramatic. In a reversal of his Fawlty Towers role, he was the hotel manager Don Carlos Bernardo in the 1977 Are You Being Served? movie,[37] In addition he also played the recurring character of Barrister Jeremy Nisbett Q.C. in the Granada Television daytime series, Crown Court.

In 1980 Sachs starred in the title role of a four-part BBC adaptation of H. G. Wells's The History of Mr Polly.[38] The following year, he portrayed a French Revolutionary in Mel Brooks's History of the World, Part I.

1988 saw Sachs and his wife Melody returning to Berlin to make a three part BBC documentary following his early life in the city, comparing it to the divided Berlin of 1988. An excerpt exists in the BBC Archive.

In 1990, he appeared as a contestant on Cluedo, facing off against fellow actor Keith Barron.

In 1992, he voiced the titular gingerbread man in the animated series The Gingerbread Man. He also voiced the characters Mr. Salt, Herr Von Cuckoo, and Sleek The Mouse.

In 1994 Sachs appeared in the popular Thames Television comedy drama series Minder. He played Sidney Myers in the episode "All Things Brighton Beautiful".[39]

In 1996, Sachs portrayed Albert Einstein in an episode of the American PBS series NOVA entitled "Einstein Revealed".[40] In 1997, Sachs played opposite Shane Richie in Chris Barfoot's Dead Clean:[41] in a tale of mistaken identity, Sachs plays airport window cleaner Kostas Malmatakis who is hired to assassinate a businessman by his greedy partner (Mark Chapman); the British short won a Gold Remi at the Houston Worldfest in 2001.[42]

Sachs has had several roles in Doctor Who productions. He played "Skagra" in the webcast/audio version of the Doctor Who story Shada, completed by Big Finish Productions and in 2008 he played the elderly version of former companion Adric, in another Doctor Who story for the same company, The Boy That Time Forgot. In the 1980s, Sachs had submitted his name to be considered for the part of the Seventh Doctor in the television series.[43]

In 2005, Sachs served as the performer for the audiobook version of Urchin of the Riding Stars, the first book of The Mistmantle Chronicles.[citation needed] In 2007, the BBC broadcast an adaptation of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency with Sachs portraying Reg (Professor Urban Chronotis, the Regius Professor of Chronology).[44] He would later appear in another Adams adaptation as the Book in the live tour of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy during its run at Bromley's Churchill Theatre.[45]

On 17 November 2008, it was announced that Sachs had been approached to appear in ITV soap Coronation Street.[46] He later confirmed on 14 December that he was taking up the offer, saying "My wife was such a fan that I've been watching it since 1962". In May 2009 he made his debut on the street as Norris' brother, Ramsay.[47] He appeared in 27 episodes and left in August 2009.[48]

Sachs toured with the Australian pianist Victor Sangiorgio in a two-man show called "Life after Fawlty", which included Richard Strauss's voice and piano setting of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Enoch Arden".[49][50] 2012 saw his last major role, as Bobby Swanson in the movie Quartet.[51]

Writing edit

Between 1962 and 1985 Sachs wrote a number of plays for theatre and radio, in parallel with his acting career. His first radio play, in 1962, was One Man and His Dog.[52] Till Death Do Us Join, concerning Ernest Wire's desire to murder his wife, and Ruby Drab's hope to 'dispose of her spouse', was produced by the BBC in 1964 and broadcast in Australia as So You Want to Get Rid of Your Wife the following year.[53] In 1978, BBC Radio 4 broadcast The Revenge, a ground-breaking 30-minute play totally without dialogue (an experiment in binaural stereo recording), written and performed by Sachs.[10] It was dismissed by playwright Jonathan Raban as a "wordless sequence of noises" and "a well-puffed curiosity". The play has however subsequently been repeated a number of times on BBC Radio 4 Extra.[54]

Made in Heaven, which had starred Sachs's future Fawlty Towers co-star Prunella Scales when produced for radio in 1971, was brought to the stage in 1975. As performed at the Chichester Festival it starred Patrick Macnee.[55] Though it was a popular success, Sachs said in 1981, "the critics really slaughtered it ... Actually, I had to agree with the critics. There was a lot wrong with the play." He professed his intention to rewrite the work and stage it again.[16]

Sachs claimed he would "concentrate on writing if anything happened to impair my acting. But I'm very much a part-time writer."[16]

Prank phone call controversy edit

On 25 October 2008, the BBC apologised to Sachs and his agent after they had been informed that Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross had made several obscene phone calls to him during an episode of The Russell Brand Show recorded on 16 October and broadcast two days later, on which Sachs had agreed to appear.[56] Both presenters had left explicit messages on Sachs's telephone answering machine stating that Brand had sex with his granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.[57]

Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, criticised Ross and Brand's actions, saying that it was "clearly inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour", and the television watchdog, Ofcom, launched an inquiry into the matter.[58] Afterwards, Brand and Controller of Radio 2 Lesley Douglas resigned, with Ross soon suspended.[59] In February 2014, Sachs was interviewed by the BBC about his autobiography. He spoke of how the scandal still affected him.[60]

Illness and death edit

Sachs was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012, which eventually left him unable to speak and forced him to use a wheelchair. He died on 23 November 2016 at the Denville Hall nursing home in Northwood, London.[61][62] His funeral took place on 1 December, the same day his death was publicly announced.[63][64] Melody Sachs died the following year.[65]

On 2 December 2016, BBC One broadcast the Fawlty Towers episode "Communication Problems" in his memory. John Cleese paid tribute to Sachs, describing him as a "sweet, sweet man".[66]

Legacy edit

In July 2021 the BBC Two television series Secrets of the Museum reported on the waiter's costume, worn by Manuel, which had been gifted to Victoria and Albert Museum by the actor's daughter.[67]

Selected filmography edit

Year Title Role Notes
1947 Hue and Cry Schoolboy Uncredited
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
1959 The Night We Dropped a Clanger A.C.2 Briggs
1961 Nothing Barred Convict
1962 We Joined the Navy Short Changed US Seaman Uncredited
1962 The Saint Jacques (Hotel concierge) The Loaded Tourist, Season 1, ep. 5[68]
1973 Hitler: The Last Ten Days Walter Wagner
1974 Frightmare Barry Nichols
Romance with a Double Bass Musician Zhuchkov
1975 Robin Hood Junior Friar
1975–1979 Fawlty Towers Manuel
1976 House of Mortal Sin Man in Church
1977 Are You Being Served? Don Carlos Bernardo
1978 What's Up Nurse! Guido the waiter
Revenge of the Pink Panther Hercule Poirot
1981 History of the World, Part I Gerard Segment: "The French Revolution"
1988 Consuming Passions Jason
1989 Asterix and the Big Fight Ardeco English version, voice
1992 The Gingerbread Man The Gingerbread Man
1993 The Mystery of Edwin Drood Durdles
1994 Taxandria André / Superintendent
Faust English version, voice
1998 The Legend of the Lost Keys George Gardener
2001 Nowhere in Africa Mr. Rubens
2003 Cheeky TV Announcer
2009 Coronation Street Ramsay Clegg
2010 Terry Pratchett's Going Postal Tolliver Groat
2012 Run For Your Wife Clumsy Waiter
Quartet Bobby Swanson
2014 Breaking the Bank Jenkins
2015 EastEnders Cyril Bishop
2016 Alice Through the Looking Glass Mantel Clock Uncredited, final film role

Books edit

  • 2015, I Know Nothing! The Autobiography, The Robson Press, ISBN 978-1849-5490-04 (shortlisted for The Sheridan Morley Prize, 2015)[69]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Williams, Rachel (29 October 2008). "Andrew Sachs: profile". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 1 November 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
  2. ^ "Andrew Sachs Biography". NetIndustries. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
  3. ^ Andrew Sachs I Know Nothing!The AutobiographyRobson, London 2014 p. 2
  4. ^ "Andrew Sachs, Manuel from Fawlty Towers, dies aged 86". The Guardian. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  5. ^ Sale, Jonathan (2 February 2006). "Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Andrew Sachs, actor and writer". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
  6. ^ Grunberger, Richard (September 2002). "Manuel dexterity: Profile of Andrew Sachs". AJR Journal. Association of Jewish Refugees. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
  7. ^ Osley, Richard (30 October 2008). "Make a meal of it! Fawlty Towers actor in BBC Radio 2 row opens brand new hospital restaurant". Camden New Journal. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  8. ^ "Melody Sachs".
  9. ^ Christopher Mele, 'Actor Played Beloved Waiter on "Fawlty Towers", Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 3 December 2016, p. B6
  10. ^ a b Street, Seán (21 April 2015). Historical Dictionary of British Radio. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1442249233.
  11. ^ a b Dennis Barker (2 December 2016). "Andrew Sachs obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  12. ^ Sarah Ahern (2 December 2016). "Andrew Sachs, 'Fawlty Towers' Actor, Dies at 86". Variety. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  13. ^ a b Hannah Furness (2 December 2016). "Andrew Sachs, the much loved Fawlty Towers actor, dies aged 86". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Heritage: Andrew Sachs". BAFTA. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  15. ^ "BAFTA Awards Search: Fawlty Towers". BAFTA. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  16. ^ a b c Sachs quoted in Fred Morony, "13 Fawlty Weeks changed Andrew Sachs's life", Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August 1981, p. 41.
  17. ^ a b c Morris Bright, Robert Ross (2001). Fawlty Towers: fully booked. p. 86. ISBN 9780563534396.
  18. ^ "Manuel And Los Por Favors [Andrew Sachs] – O Cheryl / Ode To England – Pye – UK – 7P 150". 45cat. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  19. ^ Clay Lucas (24 July 2005). "What's a matter you, hey?". The Age. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  20. ^ "ARTS: TO HELL WITH BASIL". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  21. ^ "Andrew Sachs suffered burns on set of Fawlty Towers". The Daily Telegraph. London. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Andrew Sachs". Speak Out. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  23. ^ "Audiobooks narrated By Andrew Sachs". Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  24. ^ Thomas and the Tiger (Thomas the Tank Engine). ASIN 1860211976.
  25. ^ Marcus, Daniel; Kara, Selmin (2015). Contemporary Documentary. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN 978-1317534167.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ Charles P. Mitchell (2002). "Faust". The Devil on Screen: Feature Films Worldwide, 1913 through 2000. McFarland. p. 124. ISBN 9780786446995.
  27. ^ "William's Wish Wellingtons". BBC. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  28. ^ "Starhill Ponies". BBC. 7 April 1999. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  29. ^ R.R. Bowker (1999). Bowker's Directory of Videocassettes for Children. R. R. Bowker LLC. ISBN 0835242013.
  30. ^ "Little Grey Rabbit". BFI. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  31. ^ "The Forgotten Toys". BFI. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  32. ^ "Father Brown stories". BBC Radio. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  33. ^ "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes". Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  34. ^ "Obituary: Andrew Sachs, Fawlty Towers' Manuel". BBC News. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  35. ^ "The Count of Monte Cristo". BBC Radio. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  36. ^ "Neverwhere, London Below". BBC Radio. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  37. ^ Garry Berman (2011). Best of the Britcoms: From Fawlty Towers to The Office. Taylor Trade Publications. p. 20. ISBN 9781589795266.
  38. ^ "The History of Mr. Polly Part One". BFI. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  39. ^ "#10.3 All Things Brighton Beautiful".
  40. ^ "Einstein Revealed". NOVA. PBS. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  41. ^ "Dead Clean". BFI. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  42. ^ "Anglo American Pictures". Mandy Actors. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  43. ^ "Nearly Who". BBC. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  44. ^ "Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency opens for business on Radio 4". Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  45. ^ Nikki Jarvis (20 June 2012). "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio show comes to The Churchill Theatre, Bromley". Bromley News Shopper. Newsquest. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  46. ^ "Sachs to join 'Coronation Street'?". Digital Spy. 17 November 2008. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  47. ^ "". 14 December 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  48. ^ "Andrew Sachs". BFI. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  49. ^ "LyndaRonan Personal Management". Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  50. ^ "Thornbury Arts Festival 2001". 15 December 2000. Archived from the original on 17 October 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  51. ^ "Quartet". BFI. Archived from the original on 13 May 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  52. ^ "Andrew Sachs radio plays – DIVERSITY WEBSITE". Archived from the original on 15 January 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  53. ^ 'Husband Defined in BBC Comedy' Melbourne Age, 8 April 1965 p. 25
  54. ^ Beck, Alan. "The Revenge, a radio play without words, written and performed by Andrew Sachs in 1978". Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  55. ^ Otto Dekom, 'Celibacy helped Macnee gain TV popularity' Wilmington Morning News 1 October 1975 p. 28
  56. ^ "BBC apologises over Brand prank". BBC News. London: BBC. 27 October 2008. Archived from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  57. ^ Taylor, Matthew (30 October 2008). "'Living this way makes me happy'". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2 November 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  58. ^ "BBC pressured to sack presenters". BBC News. London. 29 October 2008. Archived from the original on 1 November 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  59. ^ "Sachs accepts presenters' apologies". BBC News. London. 29 October 2008. Archived from the original on 1 November 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  60. ^ "BBC News – Andrew Sachs: Brand and Ross radio stunt 'disgusting'". 19 February 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  61. ^ "Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies aged 86". BBC News Online. BBC. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  62. ^ Mele, Christopher (1 December 2016). "Andrew Sachs, Hapless Waiter on the BBC Sitcom 'Fawlty Towers,' Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  63. ^ "Andrew Sachs, the much loved Fawlty Towers actor, dies age 86". The Telegraph. 1 December 2016.
  64. ^ "Andrew Sachs, Manuel from Fawlty Towers, dies aged 86". The Guardian. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  65. ^ "Melody Sachs".
  66. ^ Weaver, Matthew (2 December 2016). "Andrew Sachs, Manuel from Fawlty Towers, dies aged 86". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  67. ^ "Secrets of the Museum – Series 2: 2. Epic Iran".
  68. ^ "Watch the Saint Episode : The Saint: S1 E5 – the Loaded Tourist".
  69. ^ Sachs, Andrew (2014). I Know Nothing! The Autobiography. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 9781849546362. Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2016.

External links edit