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Andrew Sachs (born Andreas Siegfried Sachs; 7 April 1930) is a German-born British actor. He made his name on British television and is best known for his portrayals of Manuel in Fawlty Towers, a role for which he was BAFTA-nominated, and Ramsay Clegg in Coronation Street.
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 Nazi persecution. They settled in North London, and he still lives in Kilburn.
In 1960, Sachs married Melody Lang, who appeared in one episode of Fawlty Towers, "Basil the Rat", as Mrs. Taylor. His stepson is John Sachs, formerly Capital Radio DJ and Gladiators commentator.
In the late 1950s, Sachs worked on radio productions, including Private Dreams and Public Nightmares by Frederick Bradnum, an early experimental programme made by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
He appeared on stage 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). In Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) he appeared in the episode "Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave" during which he portrayed a football commentator.
Sachs is best known for his role as Manuel, the Spanish waiter in the sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975 and 1979), and is now frequently heard as a narrator of television and radio documentaries, as well as audio books, including C. S. Lewis's Narnia series and Alexander McCall Smith's first online book, Corduroy Mansions.
During the filming of the episode "The Germans" for Fawlty Towers Sachs was left with second degree acid burns due to a fire stunt.
In 1978, after 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, playwright Jonathan Raban dismissed the work as a 'wordless sequence of noises' and 'a well-puffed curiosity'. The play has subsequently been repeated a number of times on BBC Radio 7, most recently in August 2009.
In 1980 Sachs starred in the title role of a four-part BBC adaptation of the H.G. Wells story "The History of Mr Polly".
From 1984 to 1986, Sachs starred as Father Brown in a BBC Radio series based on the stories of G. K. Chesterton. 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 addition, he has been a narrator on many television documentaries, including ITV's …from Hell series and the Eyewitness videos.
A popular narrator thanks to his clear and distinct tones, Sachs narrated all five series of BBC's BAFTA-award-winning business television series Troubleshooter presented by Sir John Harvey-Jones MBE, and he also narrated 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 1996, Sachs portrayed Albert Einstein in an episode of the American PBS series "NOVA" entitled "Einstein Revealed".
In 1997, 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.
In 1998, Sachs appeared as George Gardener in The Legend of the Lost Keys from BBC's Look and Read series, alongside Jonathan Kitchens and Abigail Ansell, who played the twins Mark and Lisa Astor.
In 2000, Sachs narrated the spoof documentary series That Peter Kay Thing.
From 2002 to 2010, he took over the role of Dr. John Watson from Michael Williams in four series of original Sherlock Holmes stories for BBC Radio 4, opposite Clive Merrison as the famous consulting detective. These were transmitted as The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and have been released on compact disc and cassette.
On 9 April 2006, Sachs appeared in BBC Radio 4's Classic Serial adaptation of The Code of the Woosters as Jeeves with Marcus Brigstocke as Bertie Wooster.
From 4 August to 8 September 2010, Sachs starred as "Edmond Dantes" in a 7-part adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo on BBC Radio 7's "Young Classics" series.
He has also appeared as a featured guest star in at least two "unusual format" stories for long-running BBC series. In a role reversal to his Fawlty Towers work, he was the hotel manager in the 1977 Are You Being Served? movie. Later, he played "Skagra" in the webcast/audio version of the Doctor Who story Shada, completed by Big Finish Productions. 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.
Sachs has released four singles 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. Dolce remarked that Manuel's cover version of his single was his third favourite cover version behind an Aboriginal version (which he helped write with an Aboriginal elder) and an Italian version which Dolce describes as "out of this world".
In 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).
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 is 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.
He also appeared in the 2008 Christmas special edition of Casualty.
In May 2010, Sachs appeared as Tolliver Groat in Terry Pratchett's Going Postal.
With the Australian pianist Victor Sangiorgio, he has 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".
Between 28 and 30 June 2012, Sachs played the part of The Book in the live tour of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when it was performing in Bromley's Churchill Theatre.
He played Bobby Swanson in the movie Quartet (2012).
Prank phone call controversy
On 25 October 2008, the BBC apologised to Sachs and his agent following criticism that Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross had made several obscene phone calls to him 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 Burlesque dance group Satanic Sluts Extreme). Gordon Brown, 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 enquiry into the matter. Afterwards, Brand and Controller of Radio 2 Lesley Douglas resigned with Ross soon suspended.