The man who played one of comedy’s favourite characters of all time has died after a secret battle with Dementia. Andrew Sachs, who was ‘Manuel’ in the Seventies sitcom, has died at the age of 86 after fighting Vascular Dementia for the past four years.
His devastated wife Melody had cared through him throughout his illness. In a heartbreaking statement, she said: “My heart has been broken every day for a long time.”
Vascular Dementia, the second most common type of Dementia after Alzheimer’s is caused as a result of reduced bloodflow to the brain. It leads to loss of memory, problems with balance and other debilitating effects on the body. It can lead to problems with making decisions or problem solving, difficulties following instructions and problems with concentration.
However, despite Mr Sachs’ illness, Melody said: “We were happy, we were always laughing, we never had a dull moment. He had dementia for four years and we didn’t really notice it at first until the memory started going. It didn’t get really bad until quite near the end. I nursed Andrew, I was there for every moment of it.”
Mr Sachs was best known for playing Manuel, the disorganised Spanish waiter in Fawlty Towers. With a poor grasp of English, he faces physical and verbal abuse from his boss Basil Fawlty while working at a fictional hotel on the English riveria. He was the perfect foil to John Cleese’s Basil, with his confused catchphrase “Qué?”
Mr Sachs hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons eight years ago when comedian Russell Brand and presenter Jonathan Ross made a series of prank phone calls in which they spoke about Sachs’ grandaughter Georgina Baillie. Ross was suspended from the BBC as a result, but ended up joining ITV.
Meanwhile, Melody Sachs has made no secret of her displeasure and anger about the incident, saying she would punch Jonathan Ross in the face if she met him.