Wilfred Mott in "Voyage of the Damned"
|Doctor Who character|
|Home era||Early 21st century|
|First appearance||"Voyage of the Damned" (2007)|
|Last appearance||The End of Time (2010)|
|Portrayed by||Bernard Cribbins|
Wilfred "Wilf" Mott is a recurring fictional character in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, played by Bernard Cribbins. He is the grandfather of the Tenth Doctor's companion Donna Noble, and father of character Sylvia Noble. As companion to the Doctor, an alien Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, Donna travelled through space and time in the show's 2008 series, having numerous adventures. A believer in extraterrestrial life himself, Wilf was proud of his granddaughter's adventures and helped to keep them a secret from her overbearing mother. Wilf later became the Tenth Doctor's final companion in The End of Time.
Cribbins was originally intended to appear only in the 2007 Christmas special, "Voyage of the Damned", but when Howard Attfield was forced to retire from his role as Donna's father due to illness (Attfield subsequently died), creator Russell T Davies reconceived Cribbins' role as Donna's grandfather and replaced Attfield with him for the fourth series.
Wilfred Mott first appears in "Voyage of the Damned" (2007). The Doctor and Astrid meet him shortly after teleporting down to Earth. He mans a newspaper stand and is one of the few people to remain in London over Christmas following the bizarre events during each Christmas in recent years ("The Christmas Invasion" and "The Runaway Bride"). He is a staunch monarchist. He witnesses the Doctor and Astrid being teleported back to the intergalactic cruiser Titanic.
Donna Noble calls him "Gramps". In the episode "Partners in Crime", Wilfred is revealed to be an amateur astronomer who spends his evenings stargazing with his telescope from an allotment. He has an interest in alien conspiracies, and is somewhat eccentric. He has a good relationship with his granddaughter who joins him on the allotment when she wishes to escape her mother's nagging. Donna asks him to tell her if he ever sees "a little blue box" and vaguely describes the Doctor to him. After Donna joins the Doctor, the pair make a fly-by of the allotment in the TARDIS, its door open, which astonishes Wilfred. Donna waves to him from the TARDIS door and he is elated to see that she is following her desire for adventure.
In "The Sontaran Strategem", Wilfred is reunited with his granddaughter and the Doctor, whom (Donna is shocked to learn) he has met previously. His absence in "The Runaway Bride" is explained by the Spanish flu. When the ATMOS devices activate, he is trapped in the family car where the Doctor and Donna try to rescue him; the episode ends with him still trapped and choking in his car. In "The Poison Sky", his daughter Sylvia saves him by smashing the windscreen with an axe kept by the front door of her house.
In a parallel world in "Turn Left", in which the Doctor died without ever meeting Donna, Donna wins a holiday for her family in the country, and Wilfred is thus not at his news stand at Christmas as otherwise depicted in "Voyage of the Damned". Without the Doctor, the interstellar cruiser Titanic crashes into Central London, obliterating the metropolis in a massive explosion. Following the disaster, the United States pledges much-needed aid to Britain, prompting Wilf to shout "God bless America!", though the anticipated aid is cancelled after millions in the U.S. are killed as a result of Miss Foster's selection of the U.S. as a breeding ground for the Adipose. Wilfred and his family are evacuated to Leeds with countless other refugees. References are made there to his military service: an Italian immigrant friend calls him "my captain" and salutes him as he leaves. Wilfred becomes distressed when his friend is taken to a labour camp noting "that's what they called them last time," alluding to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
In "The Stolen Earth", Wilfred takes it upon himself to fight the Daleks, armed with a paint gun, reasoning that shooting them in the eyepiece will blind them. The Dalek he attempts to blind dissolves the paint from its eyepiece, and states: "My vision is not impaired". He and Sylvia are rescued from the Daleks by a heavily armed Rose Tyler who turns down Wilfred's offer to trade weapons but returns with them to their home to try to contact the Doctor. Wilfred uses the internet, but his daughter Sylvia has not allowed him a webcam on their computer as she considers the devices "naughty", so his computer provides Rose only one-way communication of former Prime Minister Harriet Jones' video conference with her militia of the Doctor's companions.
In "Journey's End" because Donna's memory was wiped, Wilfred sees the Doctor off on her behalf, and promises whenever he looks up at the stars, he'll think of the Doctor, whom he considers a very close friend and almost a family member. Against Sylvia's claims that Donna was just as good before travelling with the Time Lord, Wilfred stands his ground and compels his daughter to admit that the Doctor made Donna a better person. While he agrees to keep the Doctor a secret, he also promises to keep watch for him in Donna's place in memory of his actions.
Wilfred returns one last time in "The End of Time", in which he has repeated visions of the Master. He then repeatedly meets an unnamed woman and discovers depictions of the TARDIS included in historical art. He searches for and finds the Doctor. The Doctor has come to Earth to find the Master, and Wilfred promptly joins him as a companion, partially because he doesn't want to deal with his furious daughter. The mysterious woman tells Wilfred that he must take arms, prompting him to carry his old service revolver. The Doctor begins to suspect that something is keeping Wilfred close to him. They go to Joshua Naismith's mansion, where the Master turns the human race into himself, but Wilfred is protected by the Doctor by placing him inside a chamber shielded from radiation. He is captured by the Master, but is rescued by two aliens, Addams and Rossiter. On the alien ship after being rescued, Wilfred tries to convince the Doctor to take his gun and kill the Master but initially fails. During the following missile attack on their ship, Wilfred gleefully mans a laser cannon to defend the ship. Upon their return to Earth, Wilfred traps himself in the radiation booth again while freeing a technician trapped in there and watches the Doctor's confrontation with the Master and Rassilon. Afterwards, when the Doctor thinks he's safe, Wilfred fulfilles the prophecy that "he will knock four times" by knocking four times on the door to get the Doctor's attention. The booth is about to be flooded with radiation and in order to free Wilfred the Doctor must sacrifice himself by exposing himself to the radiation instead. Wilfred tells him to go saying he's lived his life, but the Doctor saves him, telling him "It's my honour." The radiation the Doctor absorbs to save Wilfred forces him to regenerate into his eleventh incarnation. He is last seen at Donna's wedding, Wilf is again visited by the dying Doctor, who gives him and Sylvia a winning lottery ticket as a wedding present, the Doctor having purchased the ticket with money borrowed in the past from Wilfred's late son-in-law (Donna's father). As the Doctor leaves for the last time, Wilfred tearfully salutes him.
Wilfred Mott is played by Bernard Cribbins who appeared in the second Doctor Who film, Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD, as companion Special Constable Tom Campbell, a character replacing that of Ian Chesterton from the television serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth on which the film was based. Cribbins was also considered for the fourth Doctor in 1974. In 2006, he became part of the revived series when a photograph of him at a wedding was used in the BBC's tie-in website for "Tooth and Claw". Cribbins also played a rock band manager in the Eighth Doctor radio play "Horror of Glam Rock" broadcast on BBC 7 in 2007.
Cribbins brought elements of his own costume for the role when filming "Voyage of the Damned", such as the hat with the Parachute Regiment badge from his National Service days.
Producer Phil Collinson stated in an interview for SFX that Wilfred Mott will "crop up again in the series several times". Collinson says of Cribbins "it's a great privilege to have him on set, he's wonderful" and "now we’ve got him we’re keeping him! He is brilliant." Mott is not "strictly speaking" linked to Series 4's joining thread, but in the commentary for the first episode, it was suggested that his meeting the Doctor in the Christmas special may not have been accidental.
Following Wilfred Mott's appearance in "Voyage of the Damned", the character was reintroduced as a recurring character and it was established that he is Donna Noble's grandfather. The character replaces that of Donna's father, Geoff Noble, played by Howard Attfield in "The Runaway Bride", because Attfield died after filming scenes for "Partners in Crime". Collinson had the idea that Wilfred should be Donna's grandfather after Executive Producer Russell T Davies had decided that a grandfather character should replace the father character after Attfield's death. Davies and fellow Executive Producer Julie Gardner liked the idea, so Davies wrote Wilfred into "Partners in Crime". The character Cribbins portrayed in "Voyage of the Damned" was originally to have been called "Stan", but Davies liked the name "Wilfred" for Donna's grandfather and was able to get the credits for "Voyage of the Damned" changed before its broadcast for consistency.
Laura Pledger of Radio Times named Cribbins the best Doctor Who guest star, writing, "When he wasn't making you smile, Wilfred Mott broke your heart". SFX placed the character at number 13 in a 2009 article listing the 27 things they loved best about the revival of Doctor Who.
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- Bernard Cribbins | Gavin Barker Associates
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