Doctor Who actor Bernard Cribbins has died aged 93, his agent has confirmed.
Bernard Cribbins played the Doctor’s companion Tom Campbell in the 1966 film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 AD. Forty-one years later, in the newly revived TV series, he returned to the show as Wilfred Mott, the grandad of Catherine Tate’s character Donna. This made him the first actor to travel in the Tardis as two separate characters.
He played Wilfred from 2007 to 2010.
Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies led the tributes, posting on his Instagram:
“I love this man. I love him,” began Davies in an Instagram caption, which accompanied a photo of Cribbins playing Snout in a version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“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,” he continued. “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.
Comedian and actor Matt Lucas, who also appeared in Doctor Who, called Cribbins a “brilliantly talented man”.
Generations of children had come to know Cribbins through his work on television. He also played the station porter Albert Perks in the 1970 film The Railway Children.
Having left school at 13, Cribbins began working at a local theatre club as a stage manager before taking on minor roles and serving an apprenticeship at the Oldham Repertory Theatre.
In the 1960s, the actor became well known for his novelty records, such as Right Said Fred and The Hole in the Ground, which Noel Coward selected as one of his desert island discs.
He landed major big-screen roles during the 1970s, including the role of barman Felix Forsythe in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy.
During a career spanning seven decades, Cribbins narrated the 1970s children’s programme The Wombles. His voice was a regular feature in UK living rooms, thanks to shows like Jackanory. He frequently read stories on the series from 1966 to 1991. He holds the record as the reader of the most stories on the show, with 114.
Songwriter and producer Mike Batt, who wrote the theme tune for The Wombles, told BBC News: “He was rather mischievous and just great – funny, giggly company to be with. But he took his work very seriously, and he was a fine actor on all levels. I think he’ll be so badly missed by so many.”
Dame Floella Benjamin, who appeared alongside Cribbins on children’s television, tweeted: “He was a creative genius, great storyteller and knew just how to communicate with an audience.”
Rest in peace, Mr Cribbins – 29 December 1928 – 28 July 2022.