Andrew Sachs has just been on BBC Radio 4, walking around London Zoo with Tim Samuels and reminiscing about how he used to sneak in there during World War II. Sachs was born to a Jewish family in Berlin in 1930. He and they fled Germany in 1938. He witnessed Kristallnacht—“Goodness, those Stormtroopers are going to get into trouble for breaking all those shop windows!” He collected a certificate signed by Hitler for his schoolboy scrap metal collecting. His father was arrested for “sedition” because he was caught with a satirical newspaper cutting in his wallet.
Sachs came across as calm about his terrifying childhood experiences and grateful for what he saw as his many other blessings. He told us about these things because Samuels asked him—they were directly relevant to the setting—and because Sachs is currently writing his autobiography anyway, but, usually, he doesn’t mention the war. Sachs even agreed to dub Manuel’s voice for the German remake of Fawlty Towers, in his first language, with a Spanish accent. I doubt he was deeply traumatized by “lewd” answerphone remarks from Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand about his granddaughter.
Another Andrew is mounting a defence of the desperate duo at wongaBlog, but I have to agree with the consensus verdict of the not-noticeably-prissy twenty- and thirty-something commenters at a football forum I sometimes visit. They didn’t object to the innuendo, just to the lack of talent: Andrew Sachs in Fawlty Towers: still funny; Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand in anything at all: not funny any more.