Thu. Jun 20th, 2024

Bernard Cribbins, star of Doctor Who and Jackanory, dies aged 93

The actor, comedian and singer had a career spanning eight decades from Fawlty Towers to hit single Right Said Fred

Bernard Cribbins has died at the age of 93. The actor, comedian and singer is perhaps best known in recent years for his recurring role in Doctor Who alongside David Tennant and Catherine Tate, but has been a regular feature on our screens since his TV debut in the 1956 version of David Copperfield.

Cribbins, who was born in Oldham, appeared in numerous films – including Carry on Jack and Carry on Columbus, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy. He first entered the Doctor Who universe in the film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. alongside Peter Cushing in 1964, before returning for the series revival in 2007 as a different character, Wilfred Mott.

Cribbins is also remembered by a generation of children as the narrator of the Wombles, from 1973-75 – although the series was endlessly repeated for decades afterwards meaning its legacy far outlived its short run. His dulcet tones meant he was a perfect fit for the BBC’s storytelling show, Jackanory, on which he appeared more times than any other reader, 114, between 1966 and 1991. He also appeared in 11 episodes of Coronation Street in 2003 as Wally Bannister.

Cribbins had two top-10 hits in 1962, with Hole in the Ground and Right Said Fred, the former of which was picked by Noël Coward as one of his Desert Island Discs, much to Cribbins’ delight. “I never met the gentleman,” he told the Guardian in 2014. “But I was in a traffic jam in Parliament Square once, and a limo pulled up alongside and he was sitting in the back seat, and I wanted to get out and say it’s me, it’s Hole in the Ground.”

Sally Thomsett and Jenny Agutter with Bernard Cribbins in the 1970 film version of The Railway Children. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Cribbins acted on stage throughout his career, beginning on the West End in 1956 at the Arts Theatre in A Comedy of Errors, taking in starring roles in Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre and numerous pantomime performances. He was awarded the OBE in 2011 for services to drama.

Russell T Davies, who worked with Cribbins on Doctor Who, has paid tribute to him on Instagram. “I love this man. I love him. 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.”

The actor Elaine Page, whoappeared alongside Cribbins in Davies’ BBC One adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, said “I’m so very sad. My dear pal Bernard Cribbins has died. We met on Anything Goes & kept our ‘Friendship’ for over 33 yrs. A very special man of many talents. Funny, kind, genuine, always had a smile on his face & a quip. One of the good guys. I will miss him so very much. RIP.”


By Chala Dandessa

I am Lecturer, Researcher and Freelancer. I am the founder and Editor at ETHIOPIANS TODAY website. If you have any comment use as email contact. Additionally you can contact us through the contact page of

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