(m. 1955; died 2021)
Bernard Joseph Cribbins OBE (born 29 December 1928) is an English actor and singer whose career spans seven decades.
During the 1960s, Cribbins became known in the UK for his successful novelty records including "The Hole in the Ground" and "Right Said Fred", and made appearances in comedy films including Two-Way Stretch (1960) and the Carry On series. He appeared as Albert Perks in The Railway Children (1970), as barman Felix Forsythe in Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972) and as pretentious hotel guest Mr. Hutchinson in the Fawlty Towers episode "The Hotel Inspectors" (1975). He narrated the BBC children's television programme The Wombles (1973–1975) and was a regular and prolific reader for the BBC series Jackanory from 1966 to 1991.
Cribbins played Tom Campbell, a companion to Dr. Who in the 1966 film Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. 41 years later, he became the only actor to have played two separate companions when he began appearing in the revival series of Doctor Who as Wilfred Mott, the grandfather of regular companion Donna Noble and a temporary companion to the Tenth Doctor.
Bernard Joseph Cribbins was born on 29 December 1928 in the Derker area of Oldham, Lancashire, the son of cotton weaver Ethel (née Clarkson; 1897–1989) and World War I veteran John Edward Cribbins (1896–1964). He has two siblings, alongside whom he grew up close to poverty. He described his father as a "jack of all trades" who also dabbled in acting. Cribbins left school at the age of 13 and found a job as an assistant stage manager at a local theatre club, where he also took some small acting roles, and then served an apprenticeship at the Oldham Repertory Theatre. In 1947, he commenced national service with the Parachute Regiment in Aldershot, Hampshire, as well as Mandatory Palestine.
Cribbins made his first West End theatre appearance in 1956 at the Arts Theatre, 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".
In 1962, three comic songs Cribbins had recorded were released and entered the UK Singles Chart. "The Hole in the Ground" was about an annoyed workman who eventually buries a harasser. "Right Said Fred" was about three workmen who struggle to move an unspecified heavy and awkward object into or out of a building. Both these songs were produced by George Martin for Parlophone, with music by Ted Dicks and lyrics by Myles Rudge. "Hole in the Ground" and "Right Said Fred" both reached the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The third and final Cribbins single of the year was "Gossip Calypso", which was another top 30 hit.
Cribbins appeared in films from the early 1950s, mainly comedies. His credits include Two-Way Stretch (1960) and The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963) with Peter Sellers, Crooks in Cloisters (1964) and three Carry On films – Carry On Jack (1963), Carry On Spying (1964) and Carry On Columbus (1992). Other appearances include the second Doctor Who film Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966) as Special Police Constable Tom Campbell; She (1965); Casino Royale (1967) as a taxi driver; The Railway Children (1970) as Mr Albert Perks, the station porter and the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Frenzy (1972) as Felix Forsythe. Later films include Dangerous Davies – The Last Detective (1981), Blackball (2003) and Run for Your Wife (2012).
Narration and voice work
Cribbins was the narrator of the British animated children's TV series The Wombles from 1973 to 1975 and also played the character of the Water Rat in a BBC radio adaptation of The Wind in the Willows. He was the celebrity storyteller in more episodes of Jackanory than any other personality, with a total of 114 appearances between 1966 and 1991. He also narrated the audio tape of the Antonia Barber book The Mousehole Cat. From 1974 to 1976, Cribbins narrated Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings.
In the 1960s, he provided the voice of the character Tufty in RoSPA road safety films. He also provided the voice of Buzby, a talking cartoon bird that was the mascot for the Post Office. He also appeared in advertisements for Hornby model trains. In 1978, he provided one of two voiceovers in the electricity safety public information film Play Safe. The other voice artist was Brian Wilde; Wilde voiced the owl and Cribbins voiced the robin. In 1981, Music for Pleasure (EMI) released a Swallows and Amazons audio book on tape cassette, read by Cribbins, abridged by Edward Phillips.
Cribbins provided the voice of Harry Bailey, the landlord of the Tabard Inn described by Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales, at the Canterbury Tales Attraction in Kent, which he recorded in 1987.
Cribbins also provided the voiceover work for A Passion For Angling, starring Chris Yates and Bob James (1993).
In 2015, Cribbins was among an ensemble cast in an audio production of The Jungle Book, in which he played the White Cobra.
Cribbins was the star of the ITV series Cribbins (1969–70). Other TV appearances include The Avengers (1968), Fawlty Towers (1975, as the spoon salesman Mr Hutchinson who is mistaken by the character Basil Fawlty for a hotel inspector), Worzel Gummidge (1980), Shillingbury Tales (1980) and its spin-off Cuffy (1983). Besides voicing The Wombles, Cribbins was a regular on BBC children's television in the 1970s as host of performance panel game Star Turn and Star Turn Challenge.
These programmes concluded with Cribbins narrating a detective story as recurring character "Ivor Notion", with a script usually by Johnny Ball but sometimes by Myles Rudge, the co-writer of his Top 10 singles. He starred in the BBC's 1975 Christmas production Great Big Groovy Horse, a rock opera based on the story of the Trojan Horse shown on BBC2 alongside Julie Covington and Paul Jones. It was later repeated on BBC1 in 1977. He regularly appeared on BBC TV's The Good Old Days recreating songs made famous by the great stars of Music Hall.
Cribbins starred as Jack in the series Old Jack's Boat, set in Staithes, and broadcast on the CBeebies channel starting in 2013. This has featured Helen Lederer, Janine Duvitski and former Doctor Who companion Freema Agyeman in supporting roles. Although Agyeman and Cribbins both played companions and supporting characters during David Tennant's tenure in Doctor Who (appearing in six episodes together), Old Jack's Boat marks the first time the two actors have appeared together on screen.
In November 2018, it was announced that Cribbins would portray Private Godfrey in a series of re-creations of lost episodes from the BBC sitcom Dad's Army. However, Cribbins left the production in February 2019 citing 'personal reasons'. The role of Godfrey was later given to Timothy West.
Later stage career
Cribbins' later theatre credits include the roles of Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre, Moonface Martin in Anything Goes with Elaine Paige at the Prince Edward Theatre, Dolittle in My Fair Lady at the Houston Opera House, Texas and Watty Watkins in George Gershwin's Lady, Be Good at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre and on tour. He has also appeared in numerous pantomimes. He appeared in the BBC CBeebies Proms (Number 11 & 13) at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 July 2014 as Old Jack.
Having played Tom Campbell, a companion to Dr. Who in the feature film Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966), Cribbins returned to Doctor Who in 2006, when a photograph of him and fellow Doctor Who alumna Lynda Baron at a wedding appeared on the BBC's tie-in website for the television episode "Tooth and Claw".
In January 2007, Cribbins had a guest role as glam rock promoter Arnold Korns in Horror of Glam Rock, a Doctor Who audiodrama by Big Finish Productions. In December 2007, he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Christmas television special, "Voyage of the Damned"; he then appeared in a recurring capacity as the same character for the 2008 series, as the grandfather of companion Donna Noble. He became a Tenth Doctor temporary companion himself in "The End of Time", the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special, when his character was inadvertently responsible for that Doctor's demise. Cribbins's role as Wilfred Mott makes him the only actor to have played two companions, and the only actor featured alongside the Doctor's enemies, the Daleks, in both the TV and cinema versions of Doctor Who.
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.
In 2009, Cribbins was honoured for his work in children's television with a Special Award at the British Academy Children's Awards which was presented by former co-star Catherine Tate, who portrayed his character's granddaughter in Doctor Who. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to drama. In 2014, he was awarded the J.M. Barrie award for his "lasting contribution to children's arts".
When he joined the Oldham Repertory, Cribbins met Gillian McBarnet, an aspiring actress. They were married from 1955 until her death on 11 October 2021. They lived in Weybridge, Surrey, and had no children, with Cribbins revealing in 2018 that they "lost one quite early on and that was the only time [they] got near it". He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, but said in 2018 that he was "in good health" at the age of 90 with the exception of a "nagging back condition".
|1957||Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst||Sonar Operator/1st Cribbage Player|
|1958||Davy||Stage Hand, Collins Music Hall||Uncredited|
|1959||Make Mine a Million||Jack|
|Tommy the Toreador||Paco|
|1960||Two-Way Stretch||Lennie Price|
|The World of Suzie Wong||Otis|
|1961||Passport to China||Pereira|
|The Best of Enemies||Col. Brownlow|
|1962||The Girl on the Boat||Peters|
|The Fast Lady||Man on Stretcher||Uncredited|
|1963||The Wrong Arm of the Law||Nervous O'Toole|
|The Mouse on the Moon||Vincent Mountjoy|
|Carry On Jack||Midshipman Albert Poop-Decker|
|1964||A Home of Your Own||The Stonemason|
|Carry On Spying||Harold Crump|
|Crooks in Cloisters||Squirts|
|The Counterfeit Constable||Bob, l'agent 202|
|You Must Be Joking||Sgt. Clegg|
|1966||The Sandwich Man||Harold – Photographer|
|Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.||Tom Campbell|
|1967||Casino Royale||Carlton Towers, Taxi Driver|
|1968||A Ghost of a Chance||Ron|
|Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River||Fred Davies|
|1970||The Railway Children||Albert Perks|
|1978||The Water Babies||Mr. Masterman/Voice of Eel|
|The Adventures of Picasso||Gertrude Stein/Narrator|
|1981||Dangerous Davies – The Last Detective||Dangerous Davies|
|1992||Carry On Columbus||Mordecai Mendoza|
|2012||Run for Your Wife||Hospital patient|
|A Fantastic Fear of Everything||The Voice|
|2016||The Bed-Sitting Room||Mate|||
|1960||Interpol Calling||"Slow Boat to Amsterdam"|
|1962||The Canterville Ghost||Ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville (BBC Sunday-Night Play)|
|1965||Here I Come Whoever I Am (Comedy Playhouse) – Ambrose Twomby|
|1971, 1976||Get the Drift|
|1973–75||The Wombles (Voices)|
|1975||The Great Big Groovy Horse|
|1975||Fawlty Towers||"The Hotel Inspectors"|
|1976||Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings (Narrator)|
|1976||Space: 1999||"Brian the Brain"|
|1976||Once Upon a Classic||"Night Ferry"|
|1977||Play of the Month||Episode 97: "The Country Wife"|
|1980s||The Further Adventures of Noddy||"The Great Car Race" (Narrator)|
|1982||The Good Old Days|
|It's Your Move|
|1987||When We Are Married|
|1987||High & Dry|
|1990||Bertie the Bat|
|1993||A Passion for Angling|
|1996||Dennis and Gnasher||Clint Katzenberger (voice, "Oil Strike" episode)|
|1999||Dalziel and Pascoe||"Time to Go"|
|2000||The Canterbury Tales||"The Journey Back"|
|2003||Last of the Summer Wine||"In Which Gavin Hinchcliffe Loses the Gulf Stream"|
|2003||Coronation Street||11 episodes|
|2005||Down to Earth||
"Voyage of the Damned" (2007)
|2009||Never Mind the Buzzcocks||Doctor Who Special|
|2010||Catching the Impossible|
|2010||Would I Lie to You?|
|2011||A Comedy Roast||"Barbara Windsor: A Comedy Roast"|
|2011||Bookaboo||"The Bears in the Bed and the Great Big Storm"|
|2013–15||Old Jack's Boat|
|2013||Doctor Who Live||The Next Doctor|
|2013||Have I Got News for You||-|
|2014||Midsomer Murders||The Flying Club|
|2015||New Tricks||Last Man Standing, Part One|
Last Man Standing, Part Two
|2016||A Midsummer Night's Dream||BBC film (as Tom Snout)|
|2018||The Chase Celebrity Special||Contestant|
|Year||Title||UK peak position||Notes|
|1962||"Hole in the Ground"||9||One of Noël Coward's choices when guest on BBC Radio's Desert Island Discs|
|1962||"Right Said Fred"||10||Inspired the name of the band of the same name|
|1962||"Gossip Calypso"||25||Written by Trevor Peacock|
|1962||A Combination of Cribbins|
|1970||The Best of Bernard Cribbins|
|1975||Paddington Bear Volume 1||Narrator|
|1975||Paddington Bear Volume 2||Narrator|
|1975||Hans Andersen – Original Soundtrack Album|
|2005||The Very Best of Bernard Cribbins|
- "Bernard Cribbins reveals "warmth" of being kids star unable to have his own". 10 October 2018.
- Hattenstone, Simon (24 July 2014). "Bernard Cribbins: 'I made Noël Coward's favourite record'". The Guardian.
- "Bernard Cribbins, Lancashire's theatrical treasure". Lancashire Life. 9 February 2010.
- "Bernard Cribbins". Gavin Barker Associates. Archived from the original on 3 May 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- "Roll Call: Private Bernard Cribbins, OBE". ParaData.
- Dennis, Jon (2 May 2012). "Old Music: Bernard Cribbins – 'Right Said Fred'". The Guardian.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 127. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "BFI Screenonline: Cribbins, Bernard (1928–) Biography". Screenonline. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 September 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Neil Gaiman Neverwhere". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
- "Great Big Groovy Horse – BBC Two England – 25 December 1975". The Radio Times (2719): 51. 18 December 1975. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- "Great Big Groovy Horse – BBC One London – 21 December 1977". The Radio Times (2823): 47. 15 December 1977. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- "Star Turn Challenge [01/10/78]". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 9 December 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- "Star Turn". UK Game Shows.com. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- "Media Centre – Old Jack's Friends". BBC. 14 January 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "Bernard Cribbins, the new Private Godfrey". The Oldie. 12 November 2018.
- "BBC Proms 2014". BBC. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
- National Life Stories, 'Cribbins, Bernard (1 of 2) An Oral History of Theatre Design', The British Library Board, 2006. Retrieved 1 February 2018
- "Weddings". Torchwood House. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
- "Into the Future!". Doctor Who Magazine. No. 386. 19 September 2007. p. 4.
- Hodges, Michael (14 October 2018). "Last Post for veterans of Palestine revolt". Thetimes.co.uk.
- "2009 Children's Special Award". BAFTA.
- "Bernard Cribbins recalls his classics". BBC News. 27 November 2009.
- "No. 59808". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2011. p. 9.
- "Bruce Forsyth Knighthood heads Queen's Birthday Honours". BBC News. 11 June 2011.
- "Veteran BBC Star Bernard Cribbins awarded J M Barrie Award". BBC News. 10 December 2014.
- "British Icon of the Week: 'Doctor Who' and 'The Wombles' Favorite Bernard Cribbins | Anglophenia". BBC America. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
- Watson, Fay (11 October 2021). "Bernard Cribbins devastated as TV legend announces 'devoted' wife Gillian has died". Daily Express.
- Hogg, James [@JamesAHogg2] (11 October 2021). "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. When chatting about their wedding day for his autobiography he talked for hours and didn't want the conversation to end. So sad" (Tweet). Retrieved 11 October 2021 – via Twitter.
- Maxwell, Dominic (28 November 2018). "Bernard Cribbins — nearly 90 and still the nation's favourite uncle". The Times.
- Bernard Cribbins | BFI
- "The Bed-Sitting Room – Radio 4 Comedy Drama". Comedy.co.uk. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
- "The Canterville Ghost (1962)". Bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
- "Catching The Impossible Films". Catchingtheimpossible.info. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
- "Bernard Cribbins – The Best of Bernard Cribbins (Vinyl, LP)". Discogs.
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