Irish Daily Mirror

What an actor.. What a life! An actual legend

– Doctor Who co-star JOHN SIMM

- In his early days BY MARK JEFFERIES Showbiz Editor news@irishmirro­


BERNARD Cribbins, the multitalen­ted actor who charmed generation­s as the station master in The Railway Children, Wilf Mott in Doctor Who, and the voice of The Wombles, has died at 93.

The children’s favourite was remembered fondly by the grown-ups he worked with.

Doctor Who show runner Russell T Davies led the tributes, affectiona­tely painting a picture of Cribbins as a man of mischief and fun who would turn up on set with a “suitcase full of props” that, for no apparent reason, would include a rubber chicken.

Davies recalled Cribbins joining the BBC series in 2007 as Wilfred Mott – grandad of the Doctor’s companion Donna, played by Catherine Tate – in a Christmas special that featured Kylie Minogue.

Davies said: “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.

“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!” Cribbins was still working in his final days, and in May was spotted filming scenes in a wheelchair for the 60th anniversar­y of Doctor Who with David Tennant.

John Simm, who played the villainous Time Lord, The Master, also paid tribute, revealing that Cribbins would entertain him by doing The Wombles’ voices. He said: “Farewell Bernard. Loved him. He would happily do all The Wombles’ voices on command, actually transporti­ng me back in time, for real!

“I’m forever in your debt Russell T Davies for giving me the chance to meet/know/work with him. What a man. What an actor. What a life! An actual legend. God bless him.”

Cribbins was born in 1928 in Oldham, Lancashire, where he grew up with two siblings and their cotton weaver mum Ethel and First World War veteran dad John.

He left school at 13, and worked as an assistant stage manager at a local theatre club, where he took on some small acting roles before joining Oldham Repertory Theatre.

In 1956, after his National Service, he made his first West End theatre appearance in A Comedy of Errors. He made his film debut in 1957, in Davy, and in 1962 had Top10 hits with comedy songs Right Said Fred and Hole In The Ground.

Cribbins became a favourite with adults and children alike for his roles in the Carry On films, The Railway Children and as the narrator on The Wombles. He also made a memorable appearance in Fawlty Towers, playing a spoon salesman mistaken for a hotel inspector by hapless Basil, who he famously tells: “All I wanted was a cheese salad. It wasn’t as though I’d order an elephant’s ear on a bun.”

In 2011, Cribbins was made an OBE for services to drama.

His death was announced by his agent Gavin Barker, who said: “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 60s 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.” Tributes from those he worked with poured in yesterday.

Doctor Who actress Georgia Tennant, wife of the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, and mum of Wilfred, nine, said: “There aren’t many people in this world who inspire you to name multiple kids after them. That’s how magic Bernard was.”

Actor Mark Gatiss, who has also written for Doctor Who, said: “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.” Figures from Cribbins’ time as a children’s TV presenter also shared their memories. Dame Floella Benjamin said: “I adored working with Bernard Cribbins back in the 80s.

He was a creative genius, great storytelle­r and knew just how to communicat­e with an audience. He has left a lasting legacy.”

Composer and conductor Mike Batt, who helped create The Wombles on TV and wrote much of their material, recalled Cribbins’ “mischievou­s” nature and questioned why he was never knighted.

Batt told BBC News: “He was a wonderful guy to just be with.”

 ?? ?? DRAMA With Tennant & Simm, 2009
SALAD DAYS With John Cleese in Fawlty Towers
TRACK STARS Cribbins with Sally and Jenny in Railway hit in 1970
FAREWELL Bernard Cribbins in last major role as Wilf in Doctor Who
DRAMA With Tennant & Simm, 2009 SALAD DAYS With John Cleese in Fawlty Towers TRACK STARS Cribbins with Sally and Jenny in Railway hit in 1970 FAREWELL Bernard Cribbins in last major role as Wilf in Doctor Who

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