Fawlty Towers’ John Cleese pays emotional tribute to Andrew Sachs

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Kayleigh Dray
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Andrew Sachs – who memorably starred as bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel in iconic comedy Fawlty Towers  – has died at age 86.

The actor had been secretly battling with dementia for the past four years, his wife, Melody Lang, has confirmed.

“My heart has been broken every day for a long time,” Melody was quoted by The Daily Mail as saying. “I never once heard him grumble.”

John Cleese, who penned and starred in Fawlty Towers alongside Sachs, has since taken to social media to pay an emotional and heartfelt tribute to his late co-star.

He wrote: “Just heard about Andy Sachs. Very sad... I knew he was having problems with his memory as his wife Melody told me a couple of years ago and I heard very recently that he had been admitted to Denham Hall, but I had no idea that his life was in danger.”

Cleese added that Sachs was “a very sweet, gentle and kind man”, and praised his talents for physical comedy.

“[He was] a truly great farceur. I first saw him in Habeas Corpus on stage in 1973. I could not have found a better Manuel. Inspired.”

Tony Robinson, who starred as Baldrick in Blackadder, also paid tribute to his old friend on social media.

“So sad that Andrew Sachs has died,” he wrote. “A true friend and a kindred spirit.

“I still have the wonderful baby pictures he took of my children. RIP.”

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Melody Sachs said her husband was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012 – and that she had nursed him throughout the condition, which left him in a wheelchair and unable to speak.

“It wasn’t all doom and gloom,” she said. “He still worked for two years. 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.”

Melody went on to reveal that her husband died in a care home last week, continuing: “It didn’t get really bad until quite near the end. I nursed Andrew, I was there for every moment of it.

“Dementia is the most awful illness. It sneaks in in the night, when you least expect it. It took a long time for Andy’s brain to go. Even about a month before he died, he was sitting in the garden and chatting away.”

She added: “Don’t feel sorry for me because I had the best life with him. I had the best husband and we really loved each other...

“We were married for 57 years, we loved each other very deeply and it was a pleasure looking after him. I miss him terribly.”

As well as his turn as Manuel, Sachs also starred in The Saint, Randall and Hopkirk, Coronation Street and The History of Miss Polly.

He also made a number of guest appearance in Casualty and Doctor Who.

He leaves behind his wife, whom he met on the set of Fawlty Towers, and their three children together.


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.