Andrew Sachs, the actor who played long-suffering Fawlty Towers waiter Manuel, died last week. He was such an iconic character, and possibly my favourite when I was growing up in the early ‘80s, that I can’t imagine the show without him. He’s all over this record, providing a well needed in-character narration, that was missing on the show’s first LP.
I wonder if a character like Manuel – which could be read as a racist stereotype – would be accepted on today’s television sets. The comedy comes not from Sachs’ portrayal as a Spaniard, but from his poor grasp of English, something that might have struck a chord in the late ‘70s as package holidays to the Mediterranean started to become popular for British holidaymakers.
In later years, Sachs became infamous for his stoush with the BBC after a prank call on Radio 2’s Russell Brand Radio Show went slightly wrong. Brand and his guest, Jonathan Ross, left messages on Sachs’ voicemail indicating that Brand had had sex with Sachs’ granddaughter Georgina Baillie, a burlesque dancer. After an Ofcom inquiry, Russell Brand and the controller of Radio 2, Lesley Douglas, both resigned, and golden boy of the BBC, Jonathan Ross was suspended for just twelve weeks.
Sachs had suffered from dementia and was living in a nursing home in the years preceding his death. Fittingly, the day after his funeral, the BBC aired the Fawlty Towers episode Communication Problems in his memory.
“Manual, there is too much butter on those trays…”
Hit: The Rat
Hidden Gem: The Builders