Bernard Cribbins, an English actor and singer whose career spanned seven decades, has died at age 93.
Bernard Joseph Cribbins was born on 29 December 1928 in the Derker area of Oldham, Lancashire, the son of cotton weaver Ethel and World War I veteran John Edward Cribbins. He had two siblings, alongside whom he grew up close to poverty. Cribbins was awarded the General Service Medal, with clasp “Palestine 1945–48”, for his service in Palestine with 2/3 Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, on 30 May 1948, under Army Order 146 of 1947. Cribbins made his first theatre appearance in 1956, playing the two Dromios in A Comedy of Errors, and co-starred in the first West End productions of Not Now Darling, There Goes the Bride, and Run for Your Wife. He also starred in the revue And Another Thing, and recorded a single of a song from the show titled “Folksong .” He had a string of top 10 hits – including his 1962 comedy song Right Said Fred. Cribbins was the narrator of the British animated children’s TV series The Wombles from 1973 to 1975. Cribbins will forever be remembered to Doctor Who fans as Wilfred Mott, the grandfather of Donna Noble. He appeared in one of the show’s most-watched episodes of all time, Voyage of the Damned, as well as being part of the beloved Tenth Doctor’s final special. It was his role in the film adaptation of The Railway Children for which he is perhaps best known, playing station porter Albert Perks.
In February 2022, a successful social media campaign secured the rights for Cribbins’ autobiography to be recorded as an audiobook in his voice.
“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” quoted Mark Gatiss on Twitter.
“He loved being in Doctor Who. He said, ‘Children are calling me grandad in the street!’” Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies posted on an Instagram post.
The cause of death is not known at this stage, although the statement notes that Cribbins remained active until his death on July 28. Cribbins’ wife of 66 years Gill passed away in 2021; the couple had no children.