"Fawlty Towers" ran for only 12 episodes over two seasons and has become a comedy a comedy series cult classic with diehard followers around the world. Created by Monty Python’s John Cleese, the program was inspired by a real hostel owner he had met during his period with the comedy team. Andrew Sachs, who played the bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel and the victim of Basil Fawlty’s xenophobia and manias has passed away at the age of 86 after having suffered from dementia.

Sachs’ interpretation was not only a more than able support for the Cleese’s Fawlty, but was also a fan favorite and a character that had depths that his boss never saw.

Manuel sang and studied, but Fawtly explained his mistakes to customers with an unforgettable line “Don’t mind him, he’s from Barcelona”, as if place of birth was sufficient explanation for the waiter’s behavior.

British cult classics

"Fawlty Towers" continued the tradition Cleese had begun with the other members of Monty Python, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman of taking the mickey out of various aspects of British behaviour. In Basil Fawlty the programme showed and satirized the narrow minded and xenophobic aspects of a part of the British population that never disappeared and which played such a huge role in the result of the Brexit in June that will lead to Great Britain withdrawing from the European Union.

Manuel, played by Sachs, was a character who was the forerunner of the huge numbers of European citizens who now live in Great Britain and will be hard hit by Brexit. The waiter does not lack the will to work and in fact repeatedly shows hidden depths of character in this replies to Fawlty and, assisted by the waitress Polly, played by American actress Connie Booth, Cleese’s then wife and co-creator of the series with him, he tries valiantly to learn English from a boss who himself has a limited knowledge of the language.

As with others of his generation, Sachs was born in Germany and fled to England after his Jewish father was forced to flee the Nazi persecutions. He found a new life there that would take him onto the stage, not only as an actor but also as a writer. No doubt, some of his own experiences as a migrant with the vagaries of the English language would have contributed to his performance as Manuel the show.

Basil the Rat

Special mention must be made of one episode, "Basil the Rat" which was also the final episode shown, where Manuel puts at risk the future of the hostel after a bad health inspector’s report when Fawlty sees that the man from Barcelona had a caged rat in his room, one that he had bought as a “Siberian hamster” from a pet shop. The episode, which Cleese would later say was his favorite was not simply a series of hilarious sites gags, but a wonderful example of plays on words.

While "Fawlty Towers" and Monty Python have huge cult followings in the United States, it would be interesting to find out how many of the gags and inside jokes are understood by the American television watch on television public.

Other English-speaking countries such as Australia and Canada would not have faced the same difficulty because, as members of the British Commonwealth, their residents had regular access to many BBC programs that were virtually unknown in the U.S. until recently. Another such example is the BBS science fiction program 'Dr. Who' which via collaboration with BBC Canada has now found a niche in many new countries and not only the United States.

In a year that has seen the deaths of too many; the death News of Castro's death of Andrew Sachs will not have the impact of Florence Henderson, Gene Wilder, or even David Bowie, but he too leaves a legacy that will entertain people for a long time into the future.

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