One item proved too raw for London’s “richest annual banquet of writers” — Jewish Book Week.
The programme said that Andrew Sachs (Fawlty Towers’ Manuel) would tell his story, from his childhood in Nazi Germany to “the intrusion into his privacy by phone calls from Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross”.
The phone escapade tipped the BBC into one of its worst recent controversies, after the veteran actor received prank calls from the pair over Brand’s relationship with Sachs’s granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.
But when a Book Week audience member asked a question about the incident on Sunday, the session’s chairman, film-maker David Cohen, intervened and Sachs was given no chance to answer.
“I didn’t want Andrew to be exposed to something painful,” David Cohen later explained.
Just how painful soon became apparent. The phone episode led to family division. On Tuesday, The Times published a letter from Georgina’s father Charles Baillie, asking “Grandad and Grandma Sachs” for reconciliation with their granddaughter.