Bernard Cribbins dies at age 93: Who was the Doctor Who actor, how did he find fame and what was he best known for?

The actor found fame singing comedy songs before embarking on a career on the big and small screens.

Veteran entertainer Bernard Cribbins, known for his comic songs and roles in numerous television shows and films, has died at the age of 93.

From being the voice of The Wombles, to playing two different Doctor Who companions 43 years apart, he was beloved by generations of television viewers.

Mr Cribbins' agent, Gavin Barker Associates, said today: "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 90's, 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."

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Here’s the legacy he has left behind.

What was Bernard Cribbins’ early life like?

Bernard Cribbins poses with his Officer of the British Empire (OBE) medal after receiving it during an Investiture ceremony with the Princess Anne at Windsor Castle in 2011.

Bernard Joseph Cribbins was born on December 29, 1928, in the English town of Oldham, and had two sisters.

His mother Ethel was a cotton weaver Ethel and his father John was a war veteran who dabbled in acting.

The family were poor and Cribbins left school at the age of 13.

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He became the assistant stage manager at a theatre club where he tried acting for the first time, going on to serve an apprenticeship at the Oldham Repertory Theatre before completing his national service with the Parachute Regiment.

How did he first find fame?

Cribbins made his West End theatre debut in 1956 in A Comedy of Errors, going on to star in stage comedies Not Now Darling, There Goes the Bride and Run for Your Wife.

He first came to the attention of a wider audience through his comedy songs, three of which entered the UK Singles Charts in 1962 – The Hole in the Ground, RIght Said Fred and Gossip Calypso.

The first two were produced by Beatles producer George Martin.

What films did Bernard Cribbins star in?

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Cribbins started his film career in the 1950s and featured in a string of movies, the majority of which were comedies.

His credits include Two-Way Stretch (1960) and The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963), Crooks in Cloisters (1964), Carry On Jack (1963), Carry On Spying (1964), She (1965), Casino Royale (1967), The Railway Children (1970), Frenzy (1972), Dangerous Davies – The Last Detective (1981), Carry On Columbus (1992), Blackball (2003) and Run for Your Wife (2012).

What children’s television programmes did Bernard Cribbins feature in?

Cribbins was the narrator of the much-loved animated children's television series The Wombles from 1973 to 1975 and appeared in the storytelling series Jackanory a record 114 times.

Other notable voice roles included as the Water Rat in a BBC radio adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, the voice of Post Office mascot Buzby, and providing voiceovers for 1970s public safety films.

Who did he play in Doctor Who?

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Cribbins played Tom Campbell, a Doctor Who companion, in the feature film Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. in 1966 acting opposite Peter Cushing’s Doctor.

In December 2007, he appeared as companion Donna Noble’s grandfather Wilfred Mott in the Christmas television special, Voyage of the Damned, becoming a recurring character in the 2008 series.

He then became a companion for the second time in the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special The End of Time.

It was recently revealed that he was set to return alongside David Tennant and Catherine Tate for a special 2023 Doctor Who episode celebrating the programme's 60th anniversary.

Was Bernard Cribbins married?

Cribbins met actress Gillian McBarnet at the Oldham Rep and they were married from 1955 until her death in 2021. They didn’t have any children.

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