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Andreas Siegfried “Andrew” Sachs (7 April 1930 – 23 November 2016) was a British actor. Born in Berlin, he and his family emigrated to London in 1938 to escape persecution under the Nazis. He made his name on British television, and rose to fame in the 1970s for his portrayals of the comical Spanish waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers, a role for which he was BAFTA-nominated. He went on to have a long career in acting and voice-over work for TV, film and radio. In his later years, he continued to have success with roles in films such as Quartet, and as Ramsay Clegg in Coronation Street. In 2008, Sachs became the centre of national sympathy and outcry over a series of insulting messages left by comedians Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on his answering machine.
Sachs was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Katharina (née Schrott-Fiecht), a librarian, and Hans Emil Sachs, an insurance broker. His father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic, and of half-Austrian descent. He left with his parents for Britain in 1938, when he was eight years old, to escape the Nazis. They settled in north London, and he lived in Kilburn for the rest of his life.
In 1960, Sachs married Melody Lang, who appeared in one episode of Fawlty Towers, “Basil the Rat”, as Mrs. Taylor. He adopted her two sons from a previous marriage, John Sachs and William Sachs, and they had one daughter, Kate Sachs.
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.
Sachs began in acting with repertory theatre, and made his West End debut as Grobchick in the 1958 production of the Whitehall farce Simple Spymen. He made his screen debut in 1959 in the film The Night We Dropped a Clanger. He then appeared in numerous TV series throughout the 1960s, including some appearances in ITC productions such as The Saint (1962) and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969).
Sachs is best known for his role as Manuel, the Spanish waiter in the sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975 and 1979). 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 hit with a faulty prop on the set of the show by John Cleese and suffered a massive headache.
Sachs recorded four singles in character as Manuel; the first was “Manuel’s Good Food Guide” in 1977, which came in a picture sleeve with Manuel on the cover. Sachs also had a hand in writing (or adapting) the lyrics. This was followed in 1979 by “O Cheryl” with “Ode to England” on the B side. This was recorded under the name “Manuel and Los Por Favors”. Sachs shares the writing credits for the B side with “B. Wade”, who also wrote the A side.
In 1981, “Manuel” released a cover version of Joe Dolce’s UK number one “Shaddap You Face”, with “Waiter, there’s a Flea in my Soup” on the B side. Sachs also adapted “Shaddap You Face” into Spanish, but was prevented from releasing it before Dolce’s version by a court injunction. When finally released it reached 138 in the UK Chart.
Voice work and narration
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 MBE and ITV’s …from Hell series. He also narrated several audio books, including C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series and Alexander McCall Smith’s first online book, Corduroy Mansions, 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”. In 2000, Sachs narrated the spoof documentary series That Peter Kay Thing.
Sachs performed all the voices in the English-language version of Jan Švankmajer’s 1994 film Faust. He also did voices for children’s animation, including William’s Wish Wellingtons, Starhill Ponies, The Gingerbread Man, Little Grey Rabbit, The Forgotten Toys and Asterix and the Big Fight.
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, dismissed by playwright Jonathan Raban as a “wordless sequence of noises” and “a well-puffed curiosity”. The play has subsequently been repeated a number of times on BBC Radio 4 Extra, most recently in February 2016.
Other roles for radio have included G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, Dr. John Watson in four series of original Sherlock Holmes stories for BBC Radio 4, Jeeves in The Code of the Woosters as Jeeves,, Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo on BBC Radio 7’s “Young Classics” series, and Tooley in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.
Although no other role brought in the attention of Manuel, Sachs continued to star in a range of productions, both comedic and dramatic. In a role reversal to his Fawlty Towers work, he was the hotel manager in the 1977 Are You Being Served? movie, and in 1980 Sachs starred in the title role of a four-part BBC adaptation of the H. G. Wells’ The History of Mr Polly.
In 1996, Sachs portrayed Albert Einstein in an episode of the American PBS series NOVA entitled “Einstein Revealed”, and the year after, Sachs played opposite Shane Richie in Chris Barfoot’s Dead Clean. A tale of mistaken identity, Sachs as airport window cleaner Kostas Malmatakis 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.
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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-oH-TELcLEIn 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). 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.
On 17 November 2008, it was announced that Sachs had been approached to appear in ITV soap Coronation Street. He later confirmed on 14 December that he was taking up the offer, saying, “I’m taking Street challenge”. In May 2009 he made his debut on the street as Norris’ brother, Ramsay. He appeared in 27 episodes and left in August 2009.
With the Australian pianist Victor Sangiorgio, he toured with 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”. 2012 saw his last major role, as Bobby Swanson in the movie Quartet.
Prank phone call controversy
On 25 October 2008, the BBC apologised to Sachs and his agent after they had been informed that comedian Russell Brand and presenter Jonathan Ross had made several obscene phone calls to Sachs during an episode of The Russell Brand Show recorded on 16 October and broadcast two days later, on which Sachs had agreed to appear. Both presenters had left explicit messages on Sachs’ telephone answering machine stating that Russell Brand had had sex with his granddaughter, Georgina Baillie (a member of the burlesque dance group Satanic Sluts Extreme). Gordon Brown, then the 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. Afterwards, Brand and Controller of Radio 2 Lesley Douglas resigned, with Ross soon suspended. In February 2014, Sachs was interviewed by the BBC about his autobiography. He spoke of how the scandal still affected him. He also said that the calls had caused a family rift and that he and his wife rarely spoke to Georgina.
Later life and death
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. He was buried on 1 December, the same day his death was publicly announced.
Biography from his Wiki page