- "You'll have to forgive him. He's from Barcelona."
- ―Basil Fawlty
Manuel is a fictional character from the BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers. Played by Andrew Sachs, he is an iconic character in British comedy history. He reappeared for a small sketch with John Cleese in We Are Most Amused in November 2008.
Manuel is a well-meaning but disorganised and constantly confused waiter from Barcelona, Spain with a limited grasp of the English language (including mispronouncing 'Pigeon' and 'Cholesterol', not knowing what 'S L E E P' spells and misunderstanding what is being said) and customs and frequently needs orders simplified or repeated in Spanish by Polly, however Manuel often gets confused when Basil speaks Spanish, Basil states that this is because he learnt classical Spanish and "not that strange dialect he (Manuel) seems to have picked up" however Basil's grasp of Spanish doesn't appear to be as good as he claims it is. He is constantly verbally and physically assaulted by his boss, including being hit with a saucepan and insulted. He is afraid of Mr. Fawlty's quick temper and violent assaults, yet often expresses his appreciation for being given the position. In multiple episodes he shown to be capable of playing the guitar and singing to some extent and in the last episode it is shown he owned a rat (whom he thought was a Siberian Hamster) named Basil after his boss for over a year. Manuel has a mother, five brothers and four sisters.
When told by either Basil, Sybil or Polly what to do, he frequently answers "sí" ('yes'), and "¿qué?" ('what?') which once led to a particularly dotty guest (Mrs Richards) believing Basil's name to be "C. K. Watt".
Behind the scenes
Actor Andrew Sachs, a German by birth, dubbed Manuel's lines for the German dub. He had some trouble with speaking German with a Spanish accent, however.
Whilst doing a stunt that involved John Cleese's character, Basil, hitting Sachs with a saucepan, Sachs made an unexpected move despite having practiced the scene for five days previously and Sachs got genuinely hit with the saucepan and had a headache for two days afterwards. During the filming of another episode where his character was supposed to be set on fire the special effects department put acid on the jacket Sachs was wearing and the fire on the sleeves burnt through and burnt Sachs' arms. His arm remained scarred for the rest of his life.