Andrew Sachs: Fawlty Towers' Manuel dies aged 86

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Media captionA look back at the life of Andrew Sachs

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, who played hapless Spanish waiter Manuel in the BBC sitcom, has died aged 86, his family has confirmed.

The actor died on 23 November and was buried on Thursday, his wife Melody said in an interview in the Daily Mail.

She told the paper that Sachs had been diagnosed with dementia four years ago.

On his role of Manuel, Sachs had told the BBC in 2014: "It was just a part I was playing and people seemed to laugh."

Obituary: Andrew Sachs

Manuel was one of the most imitated comedy characters of the 1970s.

The waiter, who famously hailed from Barcelona, often said little more than the word "Que?" to generate laughs, but arguably his most famous line was "I know nothing".

Image caption There were only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers

The waiter was regularly shown being hit by John Cleese's hotel manager character, Basil Fawlty.

"I never got upset when he hit me," Sachs said in 2014.

"He's my friend, I must say yes, yes [it hurt], several times, more than once."

Cleese, 77, who was also the co-creator of Fawlty Towers, paid tribute to his co-star.

He wrote on

: "Just heard about Andy Sachs. Very sad.

"A very sweet gentle and kind man and a truly great farceur. I first saw him in Habeas Corpus on stage in 1973.

"I could not have found a better Manuel. Inspired."

Media captionThe famous 'I know nothing' scene

Sachs, who was born in Berlin in 1930 but fled Germany for London in 1938, had dozens of other acting roles, both serious and comic - including stints in TV's two biggest soaps.

In 2009, he played the role of Ramsey Clegg, half-brother of Norris Cole, in ITV's Coronation Street and in 2015 he briefly joined the BBC's EastEnders as Cyril Bishop.

He inadvertently became the subject of headlines in 2008 when he received a series of lewd answerphone messages from Russell Brand and fellow BBC Radio 2 presenter Jonathan Ross during a radio show, which related to Sachs's granddaughter.

The so-called Sachsgate affair resulted in Brand and the controller of Radio 2 resigning. Ross was suspended from broadcasting for three months and a review was held into the way BBC output was vetted.

Image copyright John Cleese / Twitter

Sachs's friend, Blackadder actor Tony Robinson, told BBC Radio 5 Live that Sachs had been "very modest" and said that "it really came as a surprise to him that he had the success that he did".

"People know him for that one comedy performance, but he was actually a magnificently talented man in a number of fields," he said, adding that Sachs had been "a very fine photographer" and "a very accomplished playwright".

He said: "He's worked in radio for very many years and in a way, given how shy and retiring he was, it was a good form for him.

"His face wasn't shown, he could work a lot but he didn't have to be a celebrity - and then suddenly he was thrown into the limelight."

Comedian Omid Djalili

: "Sad to learn of the passing of Andrew Sachs. Fond memories sharing a dressing room with him & Bill Bailey at We Are Most Amused in 2008."

Image copyright PA Image caption The Fawlty Towers cast reunited in 2009 Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Andreas Siegfried Sachs was born in Berlin in 1930

Samuel West, whose mother Prunella Scales starred alongside Sachs in Fawlty Towers,

: "Creator of one of our most beloved EU migrants.

"Such warmth and wit; impossible to think of him without smiling."

Little Britain creator David Walliams described his performances as Manuel as "comic perfection".

Media captionJon Sachs speaks to Radio 4's Today programme about his father Andrew Sachs


: "I had the pleasure of working with #AndrewSachs in 'Attachments'. A beautiful soul who never tired of all my 'Fawlty Towers' questions."

Comedy writer Edgar Wright said Sachs had "spun comic gold as Manuel in Fawlty Towers".

Actor Eddie Marsan, who starred in the BBC's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel,

: "RIP Andrew Sachs. You came here as a refugee with nothing but your talent and your spirit, and you enriched our lives. Thank you so much."

'Allo 'Allo actress Vicki Michelle

: "So sorry to hear of #AndrewSachs passing. Happy memories of working with him, a lovely gentle man. Thoughts are with his family."

Media captionJohn Cleese explains to Radio 4's Today the deep rapport he had with co-star Andrew Sachs

BBC Radio 2 DJ Tony Blackburn also joined the tributes,

: "So sad that Andrew Sachs has passed away... He gave us all so many laughs on Fawlty Towers, thank you. R.I.P."

Actor Mark Gatiss

: "Had the great pleasure to work with the sweet and gentle Andrew Sachs on [writer] Bert Coules's Further Adventures. His Manuel is imperishable."

Charlotte Moore, the BBC's director of content described Sachs as a "wonderful actor".

"He will be fondly remembered for his many appearances across television and radio, not least for making the nation laugh in the classic role of Manuel. He entertained millions across a brilliant career and will be greatly missed."

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