Obituary

Bernard Cribbins 1928-2022Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 28 July 2022 - Reported by Marcus
Bernard Cribbins

The actor Bernard Cribbins, one of the most beloved actors of his generation, has died at the age of 93.

Bernard Cribbins played Wilfred Mott, the grandfather of Donna Noble, in the fourth series of Doctor Who. He appeared in the 1966 Movie version of Doctor Who, Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. playing Tom Campbell

Former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies, who cast Cribbins in the series, led the tributes to the actor. 

He knew everyone! He’d talk about the Beatles and David Niven, and how he once sat on the stairs at a party impersonating bird calls with T H White. Then he’d add, I said to Ashley Banjo last week… 

He loved being in Doctor Who. He said, ‘Children are calling me grandad in the street!’ His first day was on location with Kylie Minogue, but all eyes, even Kylie’s, were on Bernard. He’d turned up with a suitcase full of props, just in case, including a rubber chicken.

And what an actor. Oh, really though, what a wonderful actor. We once took him to the TV Choice Awards and sent him up on his own to collect the award, and the entire room stood up and cheered him. That’s a lovely memory.

He’d phone up and say, ‘I’ve got an idea! What if I attack a Dalek with a paintball gun?!’ Okay, Bernard, in it went!

He loved Gill with all his heart; he mentioned her in every conversation we ever had. A love story for the ages. I’m so lucky to have known him.

Thanks for everything, my old soldier.

A legend has left the world.

 
Bernard Cribbins began his professional career at the age of 14 as a student at the Oldham Repertory Theatre, remaining there for eight years with a break to do his National service in the Parachute Regiment! From Oldham, he went onto work in rep at Manchester, Liverpool and Hornchurch.

His first West End appearance was in 1956 at the Arts Theatre playing the two Gromios in A Comedy of Errors; this was followed by leading roles in the West End.

He co-starred in the revue And Another Thing at the Fortune Theatre His recording of a song from the show entitled Folksong reached Number One.

This chart success prompted the release of two more comic songs Hole in the Ground and Right Said Fred, both of which reached the Top Ten. Cribbins was incredibly proud that the former was chosen by Noël Coward as one of his Desert Island Discs

His long Television career began in 1956 in The Black Tulip followed by playing Thomas Traddles in David Copperfield. 

Very quickly Cribbins became known for comic character acting with appearances in three Carry-On films. 

His most famous movie role is often considered to be that of Albert Perks in the 1970 version of The Railway Children

Regular appearances on the BBC series Jackanory endeared Cribbins to a whole generation of children, who had the delight of Cribbins reading out such stories as The Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit and The Emperor's New Clothes. He appeared in 114 episodes of the series, more than any other presenter.

His bond with children was cemented by his voice work on the animated series The Wombles, where his gentle storytelling enchanted generations of all ages. 

Cribbins would often appear as a guest artist in well-known series, Appearances in The Avengers and Coronation Street were followed by a show-stealing appearance in Fawlty Towers.  

His first link with Doctor Who came in 1966. He was cast as Tom Campbell in the big screen version of The Dalek Invasion of Earth. He was playing the role played by William Russell in the TV series, alongside Peter Cushing as Doctor Who. It was a masterful performance full of comedy and pathos.  

It would be nearly 40 years before he made his debut on the television version of Doctor Who. He was cast as Wilf in the 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned. It was a small role and expected to be a one-off. However, the character was so successful he was brought back in the 2008 series and given a back story as Donna Noble's Grandfather. He appeared in six episodes in the series cementing his place in Doctor Who history. His role in the Tenth Doctor's swan song The End of Time was vital, providing the reason for the Doctor's regeneration. 

Cribbins worked well into his 90's including many appearances in the CBeebies series Old Jack’s Boat.

Cribbins was married to Gillian McBarnet in 1955 until her death last October. In 2011 he received the OBE for services to drama.

Bernard Cribbins's death was announced by his agent this morning. .