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Veteran actor Bernard Cribbins dies aged 93

Veteran actor Bernard Cribbins has died aged 93.

The actor, singer, and children’s entertainer, whose career spanned seven decades, was known for iconic roles in The Railway Children, the Carry On films, and Fawlty Towers, as well as narrating The Wombles, and for his beloved appearance as Wilfred Mott in Doctor Who.

Cribbins’ agent, Gavin Barker Associates, said in a statement: ‘Beloved actor Bernard Cribbins OBE has passed away at the age of 93.

‘His career spanned seven decades with such diverse work ranging from films like The Railway Children and the Carry On series, hit 60’s song Right Said Fred, a notorious guest on Fawlty Towers and narrating The Wombles.

‘He worked well into his 90s, recently appearing in Doctor Who and the CBeebies series Old Jack’s Boat. He lost his wife of 66 years, Gill, last year.

‘Bernard’s contribution to British entertainment is without question. He was unique, typifying the best of his generation, and will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him.’

Cribbins had a career spanning seven decades, with his first credited role being in 1956 in the TV series The Black Tulip.

He went on to appear in films including Make Mine A Million, Two Way Stretch, You Must Be Joking!, before appearing in his first Carry On film, Carry On Jack, in 1964.

Cribbins gained a whole new audience of fans when he starred alongside Catherine Tate in Doctor Who as Wilfred Mott. It’s thought that he was due to appear in the sci-fi’s 60th anniversary next year (Picture: BBC)

In 1970, Cribbins took on one of his most iconic roles, Albert Perks in The Railway Children.

Just three years later, he became a staple in the world of children’s entertainment, when he narrated The Wombles. He also made no less than 100 appearances on the children’s favourite, Jackanory.

In 2011 he received an OBE for services to drama for his long career. Speaking at the investiture ceremony, he said providing the voices of characters such as Uncle Bulgaria, Tobermory and Orinoco was simple because of how The Wombles was written.

Cribbins alongside Sally Thomsett and Jenny Agutter in The Railway Children (Picture: Universal)

‘The structure of the writing was such that you knew exactly where everybody was socially in that household,’ he said.

Cribbins didn’t slow down in later life, earning a whole new audience of fans when he appeared in Doctor Who as Wilf, the grandfather of Catherine Tate’s character Donna Noble.

Voyage Of The Damned, which was broadcast on Christmas Day in 2007, saw 13.31 million people tune in to watch the then-Doctor, David Tennant, battle to save the crew of a luxury space liner called the Titanic.

Cribbins featured in the episode alongside special guests including Kylie Minogue, Geoffrey Palmer, Clive Swift and Russell Tovey.

He was an icon of children’s TV (Picture: BBC Studios)
His career spanned decades (Picture: BBC/Vishal Sharma)

Wilf was well-loved and returned alongside Donna in series four of the show.

Earlier this year, Cribbins was spotted on set filming in a wheelchair and it was thought he was due to return alongside Catherine and David Tennant in the sci-fi’s 60th anniversary.

In October 2021, Cribbins’ wife of 66 years, Gillian, died.

Writer James Hogg, who worked on Cribbins’ autobiography Bernard Who? 75 Years of Doing Just About Everything, grew very close to both Bernard and Cribbins while working on the book, the actor asked James to make the announcement on his behalf.

Taking to Twitter, James wrote: ‘Bernard Cribbins has asked me to announce that his wife Gillian passed away earlier today.

‘They were married in 1955 and were devoted to each other.’

Tributes have poured in for Cribbins, including from returning Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies.

‘Bernard Cribbins (1928-2022) I love this man. I love him,’ he wrote.

‘That’s him as Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. D’you fancy doing some Shakespeare, Bernard? “Let me see the script.” 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.’

Mark Gatiss added: ‘There was no one quite like Cribbins.

‘A gifted comic actor with an incredible seam of pathos and real heart. From Sellers to Star Turn, Wombles to Wilf. I once gushed to him about his lovely performance in Hammer’s She. That afternoon he was off to play 5 aside – aged almost 90.’


Credit: Source

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