British comedy icon Andrew Sachs has died, aged 86.

The actor, who was best known for his role as the hapless Spanish waiter Manuel in the 1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers, passed away on 23 November, following a four-year battle with dementia.

Family and close friends gathered for his funeral in North London as he was laid to rest on Thursday (December 1) .

The actor had been diagnosed with vascular dementia – a form of Alzheimer's – in 2012, but did not go public with his condition, Mail Online reports.

His wife Melody, 85, who had cared for him in his final years, said that his debilitating illness had left him using a wheelchair and unable to speak.

Andrew Sachs
Andrew Sachs has died aged 86AFP/Getty

She added that despite his ailing health, the pair shared many happy times. "It wasn't all doom and gloom, 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.

"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," she revealed.

Andrew Sachs
Sachs found success on TV, radio and stage and was one of Britian's most loved comedy actorsAFP/Getty

Describing his final weeks she said: "Even about a month before he died he was sitting in the garden and chatting away. It wasn't until the very end that it got very bad. He had the best doctor you could ever have, who helped me a lot.

"It didn't get really bad until quite near the end. I nursed Andrew, I was there for every moment of it. My heart has been broken every day for a long time," she added.

Andrew Sachs was born in Berlin in 1930 to a Roman Catholic mother and a Jewish father. He came to Britain, aged wight, after his family fled the Nazis in 1938. His parents settled in North London and he was to live in Kilburn all his life.

As an aspiring actor, he made his big screen debut in 1959 in the film The Night We Dropped a Clanger. In 1960, Sachs married Melody Lang, who later appeared in one episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil the Rat, as Mrs. Taylor

Andrew Sachs
Andrew Sachs was best-known as the put-upon waiter Manuel in Fawlty TowersAFP/Getty

Finding success on TV, he appeared in numerous series throughout the 1960s, including The Saint (1962) and Randall and Hopkirk (1969). Roles followed in Dr Who, Casualty, The History of Mr Polly and Radio 4's adaptation of Jeeves and Wooster.

Sachs is however, best known for his role as Manuel, the put-upon Spanish waiter in the sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975 and 1979) in which he starred alongside John Cleese and Prunella Scales.

He continued to work in TV, radio and on stage throughout the latter stage of his career, and in May 2009, made his debut on Coronation Street as Norris' brother, Ramsay. Sachs appeared in 27 episodes before leaving the soap in August of the same year. He also toured in a two-man show called Life after Fawlty.

However, the humble star found also himself embroiled in unwanted controversy during his final years, when, on 25 October 2008, comedian Russell Brand and presenter Jonathan Ross made several obscene phone calls to Sachs about his daughter as part of The Russell Brand Show on BBC Radio 2. The incident, dubbed "Sachsgate", caused outrage, prompting Brand to resign from the broadcaster, while Ross, then one of the BBC's star names, was suspended for three months for his part in the cruel prank.

Andrew Sachs
From L to R) Actors Connie Booth, John Cleese, Andrew Sachs and Prunella Scales pose for photographs as the original cast members of the British comedy programme 'Fawlty Towers' attend a press conference in central London, on May 6, 2009AFP/Getty

Fans of the much-loved TV star have paid tribute to Sachs describing him as a "comedy legend who never failed to make people smile."

Leading the many tributes his wife said he was"the best husband". "He always looked gorgeous. He was a very handsome guy actually," she said.

"Don't feel sorry for me because I had the best life with him," she added. "I had the best husband and we really loved each other.

"We're both as daft as brushes, we were married for 57 years, we loved each other very deeply and it was a pleasure looking after him. I miss him terribly."

"Everybody says it, but it's true, he's one of the nicest people I've met in my entire life. He's loved and respected and the public adore him."

He leaves behind wife Melody and daughter Kate, 54.