Sunday, 4 December 2016

Godspeed Andrew Sachs

Andrew Sachs, perhaps best known for playing Manuel on Fawlty Towers, died on November 23 2016 at the age of 86. The cause was vascular dementia.

Andrew Sachs was born in Berlin on April 7 1930. Being Jewish, his family fled Germany for Britain in 1938 and moved to Kilburn, London.  Mr. Sachs made his film debut in a bit part in Hue and Cry in 1947 and appeared in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby that same year. In the Fifties he appeared on radio shows, including Fredrick Bradnum's Private Dreams and Public Nightmares. He appeared in repertory theatre and made his debut on the West End in 1958 in Simple Spymen. He made his television debut in an episode of BBC Sunday-Night Theatre in 1958. He also appeared in an episode of Dial 999. He appeared in the film The Night We Dropped a Clanger (1959).

In the Sixties Andrew Sachs was one of the stars of the TV programme The Six Proud Walkers and also starred on Mr. Toby's Christmas. He guest starred on such shows as BBC Night-Play, The Saint, Espionage, Intrigue, Hugh and I Spy, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), and Callan. He appeared in the film Nothing Barred (1961). He provided the voice of Andreco in the English language version of Astérix le Gaulois (1967).

It was in 1975 that Andrew Sachs first played Manual on Fawlty Towers. He remained with the show for both of its two series and in 1980 was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Light Entertainment Performance for the role. In the Seventies he also starred on The History of Mr. Polly on television. He guest starred on The Sound of Laughter, The Basil Brush Show, Send in the Girls, Crown Court, Rising Damp, and Lovely Couple. He appeared in the films Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973), Romance with a Double Bass (1974), Frightmare (1974), House of Mortal Sin (1976), Are You Being Served? (1977), What's Up Nurse! (1978), and Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978).

In the Eighties Mr. Sachs starred on the TV programmes Dead Ernest, It'll All Be Over in Half an Hour, and There Comes a Time. He guest starred on Artists and Models and Bergerac. He appeared in the films History of the World: Part I (1981) and Consuming Passions (1988). He reprised the voice of Ardeco in the English language version of Astérix et le coup du menhir (1989).

In the Nineties Andrew Sachs starred on the TV programme Every Silver Lining and had a recurring role on Jack of Hearts. He guest starred on Woof!, The Gingerbread Man, The Mushroom Picker, Minder, Horizon, and Silent Witness. He appeared in the films The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1993), Taxandria (1994), and Dead Clean (1998). He provided voices for the films Lesson Faust (1994), and The Forgotten Toys (1995).

In the Naughts he appeared in the films Nirgendwo in Afrika (2001), Cheeky (2003), Benjamin's Struggle (2005), and The 10th Man (2006). He starred on the TV series Coronation Street. He guest starred on Silent Witness, Doctors, Holby City, The Bill, Casualty, and Going Postal. In the Teens he appeared in the films Run for Your Wife (2012), Quartet (2012), and Breaking the Bank (2014). He provided the voice of the Mantel Clock in Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016). He guest starred on EastEnders and appeared in the mini-series Spies of Warsaw.

I rather suspect Andrew Sachs will always be remembered as Manuel on Fawlty Towers. It was arguably the role of a life time. Manuel was clumsy and rather bumbling, and yet he always retained a positive outlook, even as he worked for the detestable Basil Fawlty. Of course, Andrew Sachs's performance as Manuel is one of the best examples of his sheer talent as an actor. I rather suspect many viewers did not realise the actor playing the Spanish waiter was actually German in birth. The fact is that Andrew Sachs was a master of accents and could play a wide variety of roles. Over the years he played Frenchmen, Russians, Scotsmen, Germans, and characters of many other nationalities. He played Walter Wagner, Hercule Poirot, and Albert Einstein. There should be little wonder that he did a good deal of voice work for animated films and TV shows, as he could make his voice do nearly anything. Andrew Sachs was an enormous talent, and Manuel was only one remarkable role out of many he played in his career.

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