For more than 45 years, Ricardo Montez appeared in television series, most notably Mind Your Language (1977-79), an ITV comedy set in a school for foreign students learning English. Although it was axed by Michael Grade, who was then London Weekend Television’s deputy controller of entertainment, for treating foreigners as stereotypes, it was sold to many other countries, including India, Pakistan, Kenya and Nigeria.
Montez, who was born Levy Attias in Gibraltar, came to London in the early sixties to try to pursue an acting career. He made his first movie appearance in a Hammer film, Pirates of Blood River (1962), starring Christopher Lee. Thereafter, he found most of his work in television shows, among them, The Saint (1962-69), Don’t Drink the Water (1974-75), which exported Stephen Lewis’ On the Buses character, Blakey, to Spain, the John Mills sitcom, Young at Heart (1982) and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (1986-2004). But it was his portrayal of the cheerful Spanish bartender, Juan Cervantes, in Mind Your Language, that struck a chord with viewers.
While filming Mamma Mia! in Greece in 2008, he celebrated his 85th birthday with a surprise party thrown for him by three of the film’s stars, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. Ricardo Montez, who was born on September 20, 1923, died on October 26, aged 87.
Richard Anthony Baker