Andrew Sachs was born Andreas Siegfried Sachs into a Jewish
family, in Berlin
on 7th April 1930. He is most well known for his role in Fawlty Towers
as inept waiter, Manuel
Aged 8, Sachs was enjoying a meal with his family following a night out at the circus
. Police entered the restaurant and searched his father. In his father's wallet the police found a newspaper cutting which caused the police to arrest him. This event happened shortly before Kristallnacht
. A friend of the family talked to the police and managed to get him released. This is when Sach's family decided that it was time to leave Germany for fear of their lives. Sachs had witnessed violence in Germany but hadn't understood why it was happening.
When the family reached England
, Andrew couldn't speak any English, so his family taught him one phrase which was "I'm sorry I don't understand you. I'm a little German boy". Sachs refused to say this phrase once he had learnt what it meant as at age 8 he thought he was too old to be called "little". He learnt English very quickly, and soon lost his German accent.
After leaving school, Sachs worked as an assistant stage manager at a theatre in Bexhill-on-Sea
hoping to be noticed by a talent scout. He wasn't and worked as a struggling actor for a while, even working for the BBC
on his wedding day.
In his role as Manuel, he plays a Spanish
waiter with not much grasp of the English language. Usually involved in some way in the downfall of Basil Fawlty
's schemes, Manuel was bullied and physically abused at work.
This character brought Sachs into the public eye, and gave him a character which he used outside of Fawlty Towers. He released 4 singles as Manuel. The first was in 1977 and called "Manuel's Good Food Guide
". The second was in 1979 and called "O Cheryl" with "Ode to England" as a B-side. This was released by Manuel and Los Por Favours
. In 1981, Sachs, as Manuel, recorded a spanish version of Joe Dolce
's "Shaddap you face
" which led to a court injuction to stop Sachs releasing the recording before the original. Sachs' recording, with "Waiter, there's a flea in my soup" as a B side, reached 138 in the UK charts.
Sachs as Manuel also starred in several television adverts. In the UK Manuel promoted the Halifax Building Society
, and in New Zealand
he advertised Polycell
. In Australia
, Manuel advertised a brand of wine. In this advert, waiter Manuel, in his bumbling style, misheard the order for Cart D'or
wine, and after much fuss and scraping of metal, brings the customer a car door.
In March 1987, Sachs performed at the Secret Policeman's Ball which was held in aid of Amnesty International
. He performed a monologue and was eventually heckled off stage by Warren Mitchell
's Alf Garnet
"Of all the countries in the world
There's only one for me
Where a man can live and work and play
A country of the free
I speak of England's green and pleasant land
Just next door to France
I've been here an long long time
Not days, not weeks - but months
England! My England
I sing of you with pride
And Scotland which is at the top
And Wales on the lefthand side
And there's Ireland...."
At the end of 2000 he performed in a stage show called "Fawlty Years On" in which he talks of his days as Manuel. Victor Sangiogio
performs music in this show.
As well as these productions, Sachs has written and produced a number of items for radio and television, including many voiceovers for wildlife documentaries. He takes on charity work too. At events, guests pay around £600 each to have Manuel as their waiter.