Fawlty Towers. Manuel (Andrew Sachs). Copyright: BBC

Andrew Sachs was a German-born British actor best known for playing Spanish waiter Manuel in the BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers.

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Monday 7th April 1930
Wednesday 23rd November 2016


Andreas Siegfried Sachs (Andrew Sachs) was born in Berlin, Germany, but abandoned his homeland for Britain with his Catholic, half-Austrian mother and Jewish father in 1938, to escape the Nazis. Having settled in north London, Sachs lived in Kilburn for the rest of his life.

Sachs married Melody Lang in 1960, an actor who had appeared in one episode of Fawlty Towers, "Basil the Rat", playing the role of Mrs. Taylor. After tying the knot, Sachs adopted her two sons from a previous marriage, John Sachs and William Sachs, and together they had one daughter, Kate Sachs.

In the late 1950s Sachs was still studying shipping management tat college when he worked on his first rail productions, including Private Dreams And Public Nightmares by Frederick Bradnum, an early experimental programme created by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

He would later make his West End debut in the 1958 production of the Whitehall farce Simple Spymen, and made his screen debut in 1959 in the film The Night We Dropped A Clanger, a classic comedy that follows an RAF officer who plans to fool the Nazis as to whereabouts by using a double. This would lead to appearances in crime/detective television shows for ITC, such as The Saint and Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased).

Sachs is best known by far for playing Manuel, the Spanish waiter in the iconic sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975-1979). He was nominated for a BAFTA award, eventually losing out to his co-star John Cleese. Famously, during the shooting of the well-known episode "The Germans", Sachs came away with second-degree burns due to a fire stunt.

In character as Manuel, Sachs recorded four musical singles, including "Manuel's Good Food Guide" in 1977. In 1980 he featured on This Is Your Life, when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews while in the character of Manuel. In 1981, "Manuel" released a cover version of [p[Joe Dolce]'s UK no. 1 song "Shaddap You Face", "Waiter, there's a Flea in my Soup" on the B side.

Alongside his work on Fawlty Towers, Sachs is also known for a wide array of successful voice work. He has narrated several television and radio documentaries, including all five series of BBC's BAFTA award-winning business television series Troubleshooter, presented by Sir John Harvey-Jones MBE. He has also narrated the audiobooks for C. S. Lewis' Narhia series and Alexander McCall Smith's first only book, Corduroy Mansions. In 2000, he also narrated Peter Kay's spoof documentaries series That Peter Kay Thing.

Cleverly reversing his role in Fawlty Towers, Sachs also played the hotel manager in the 1977 movie Are You Being Served?, a spin-off from the long-running and much-loved sitcom.

Sachs has undertaken several roles in productions of Dr Who, including "Skagra" in the webcast/audio version of the Doctor Who story Shada. Sachs appeared on 27 episode of the [c[ITV[/c] soap Coronation Street in 2009.

In 2008 the BBC apologised to Sachs after comedians Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross had made several obscene phone-calls to him on an episode of The Russell Brand Show. These messages, left on his answerphone, had joked about Brand having sex with his granddaughter, Georgina Baillie. In the aftermath of the scandal, Brand and Controller of BBC Radio 2 Lesley Douglas resigned, with Ross suspended. In a 2014 BBC interview, Sachs spoke of how the events still affected him.

Sachs was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012, which consigned him to a wheelchair. He died on 23 November 2016 at the Denville Hall nursing home in Northwood, London. On 2 December 2016, BBC One broadcast the Fawlty Towers episode "Communication Problems" in his memory.


BAFTA Television Awards 1980
Best Light Entertainment Performance: Nominee


Year Production Role
2016 Breaking The Bank Jenkins
2013 Jo Brand's Great Wall Of Comedy
  1. E1 - Episode One
2013 Run For Your Wife Waiter
2010 Beautiful Dreamers
  1. E2 - The Traitor of the Zazalcara
Ensemble Actor
2010 Terry Pratchett's Going Postal Tolliver Groat
2009 The Story Of Slapstick Self
2009 Fawlty Towers: Re-Opened Self
2009 Beyond A Joke Self
2008 We Are Most Amused Manuel
2007 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Holistic Detective Agency Professor 'Reg' Chronotis
2006 The Ultimate Sitcom Self
2005 The Comedians' Comedian Self
2004 Britain's Best Sitcom
  1. E1 - The Launch
  2. E3 - Fawlty Towers
2002 Meet The Magoons - Comedy Lab pilot
  1. Comedy Lab: Meet The Magoons
2000 That Peter Kay Thing - Series 1 Narrator
1999 Laughter In The House: The Story Of British Sitcom
  1. E2 - The Sensational Seventies
1998 Norman Ormal: A Very Political Turtle Party Political Broadcast Voice Over (Voice)
1993 Every Silver Lining Nat Silver
1987 Delve Special - Series 4
  1. E4 - The Resurrection Of St Jerome
Ensemble Actor
1985 Delve Special - Series 2
  1. E4 - Double Agent Russell Nicholson
Ensemble Actor
1985 There Comes A Time... Tony James
1984 Delve Special - Series 1
  1. E2 - The Shifton Scandal, Part 2
Ensemble Actor
1982 It's Your Move Road-sweeper
1982 Dead Ernest Ernest Springer
1979 The Dawson Watch - Series 1
  1. E2 - Transport
Ensemble Actor
1979 Fawlty Towers - Series 2 Manuel
1978 Rising Damp - Series 4
  1. E3 - Great Expectations
1977 Are You Being Served? Don Carlos Bernardo
1977 What's Up Nurse Waiter
1975 Fawlty Towers - Series 1 Manuel
1968 Nearest And Dearest - Series 1
  1. E3 - The Danger List
1968 Hugh And I - Hugh And I Spy
  1. E3 - Checkpoint Charlies
1959 The Night We Dropped A Clanger A. C. 2. Briggs

Non-comedy TV and film credits may be found here:
Andrew Sachs on IMDb

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