Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies

The actor's wife confirmed he passed away last week

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies

Image:Barry Batchelor PA Wire/PA Images

Tributes are being paid to Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, who's died aged 86.

The actor, who starred as the Spanish waiter Manuel in the 1970s sitcom, reportedly passed away last week.

His wife Melody said he had been diagnosed with vascular dementia four years ago, but his condition had rapidly deteriorated in the days before his death.

"My heart has been broken every day for a long time," Mrs Sachs told the Daily Mail.

"It wasn't until the very end that it got very bad. He couldn't speak because he had vascular dementia - that means that you lose your speech but you don't lose your mind."

John Cleese, who starred as Manuel's flustered boss in Fawlty Towers, said he had "no idea" that his friend's life had been in danger.

"A very sweet, gentle and kind man and a truly great farceur," Cleese wrote about Sachs on Twitter. "I first saw him in Habeas Corpus on stage in 1973. I could not have found a better Manuel. Inspired."

Sachs continued to work in his later years, with recurring roles in the likes of Casualty and Coronation Street.

But the veteran actor also had an unwelcome return to front-page news in 2008 when Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left lewd messages on his answering machine.

The voicemails, which were broadcast on Brand's late-night Radio 2 programme, included obscene remarks about Sachs' granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.

The scandal quickly became known as "Sachsgate", with Brand resigning from his show and Ross suspended from the BBC for three months as an investigation took place.

At the time, Sachs told reporters he did not want to take the matter to the police, adding: "These two are performers, I'm a performer, and sometimes it goes very wrong and it's up to them to do better."

Sachs was born in Berlin in 1930, and his family moved to England when he was eight years old to escape the Nazi persecution of Jews.

His wife of 57 years, Melody, cared for him throughout his illness. They had three children.

Comedian Tony Robinson, who starred in Blackadder, wrote on Twitter: "So sad that Andrew Sachs has died. A true friend and a kindred spirit.

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

Sachs spoke about his famous role on the show's 40th anniversary: