Bernard Cribbins

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Bernard Cribbins
Born(1928-12-29) 29 December 1928 (age 83)
Oldham, Lancashire, England
OccupationActor, comedian, singer
Spouse(s)Gillian Cribbins (1955-present)
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Bernard Cribbins
Born(1928-12-29) 29 December 1928 (age 83)
Oldham, Lancashire, England
OccupationActor, comedian, singer
Spouse(s)Gillian Cribbins (1955-present)

Bernard Cribbins, OBE (born 29 December 1928) is an English character actor, voice-over artist and musical comedian with a career spanning over half a century who came to prominence in films in the 1960s, has been in work consistently since his professional debut in the mid 1950s, and as of 2012 is still an active performer.

He is particularly known to British audiences as the story-telling narrator in The Wombles, a children's programme which ran for 40 episodes between 1973 and 1975. He also recorded several hit novelty records in the early 1960s and was a regular and prolific performer on Jackanory on BBC TV between 1966 and 1991. Cribbins's most recent prominent role has been as Wilfred Mott, companion of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who.


Early life

Born in Derker, Oldham, Lancashire, Cribbins served an apprenticeship at the Oldham Repertory Theatre, taking a break during his years of study to undertake national service with the Parachute Regiment in his late teens.[1]

Early stage and record career

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 entitled "Folksong".[2] In 1962 he recorded two comic songs, "The Hole in the Ground" (in which an embittered workman murders a bowler-hatted harasser) and followed it with "Right Said Fred" (in which a group of workmen struggles to move an unspecified large and heavy object (which comes with a seat and candelabras.).[1] Both were produced by George Martin for Parlophone, with music by Ted Dicks and lyrics by Myles Rudge.[2] One source claimed that "Hole in the Ground" reached number 1 in the chart, and the other two songs reached high positions.[2] The actual UK Singles Chart positions are given below.[3]


Cribbins appeared in films from the early 1950s, mainly in 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 AD (1966), Mr Albert Perks, the station porter, in The Railway Children (1970) and Felix Forsythe in Alfred Hitchcock's disturbing thriller Frenzy (1972). Later films include Dangerous Davies - The Last Detective (1981) and Blackball (2003).

Narration and voice work

He was the narrator of the British animated children's television series The Wombles from 1973 to 1975 and also narrated a celebrated 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 Mousehole Cat' which was written by Antonia Barber in 1990.

He provided the voice of the Tufty character in RoSPA road safety films in the 1960s. He also provided the voice of Buzby, a talking cartoon bird that served as the mascot for the then Post Office,[4] He also appeared reduced to OO gauge in adverts for Hornby model trains.[5]


Other television appearances have included The Avengers (1968), Fawlty Towers (1975), as the spoon salesman Mr. Hutchinson (mistaken by Basil Fawlty for a hotel inspector), Worzel Gummidge (1980), Shillingbury Tales (1980) and its spin-off Cuffy (1983). Later television appearances have included Dalziel and Pascoe (1999), Last of the Summer Wine (2003), the role of Wally Bannister in Coronation Street (2003) and Down to Earth (2005).

Later stage career

Later theatre credits include playing 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, USA, and Watty Watkins in Gershwin's Lady, Be Good at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre and on tour. He has also appeared in numerous pantomimes.[6]

Recent career

Cribbins returned to the world of Doctor Who in 2006 when a photograph of him at a wedding was used in the BBC's tie-in website[7] for "Tooth and Claw". In January 2007, he guest starred as glam rock promoter Arnold Korns in the Doctor Who radio play Horror of Glam Rock for BBC Radio 7. In December he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Doctor Who Christmas television special, "Voyage of the Damned"; he then reappeared as the same character throughout the 2008 series, as the grandfather of companion Donna Noble[8] He attained 'companion' status himself in "The End of Time", the two-part Christmas 2009 special that saw the end of David Tennant in the role of the Doctor. This role makes him unique, as he is the only actor to have faced the Daleks in both television and cinema versions.


Cribbins was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to drama.[9][10] A large number of people complained about this, stating he should have received the higher honour of a Knighthood. There are also a large number of campaigns on social networking website, Facebook, supporting the complaints.[11]



1960Interpol Calling"Slow Boat to Amsterdam"
1962The Canterville Ghost
1966, 68The Avengers

"The Girl from AUNTIE"
"Look - (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers ...

1971, 76Get the Drift
1973The Wombles (voices)
1973The Great Big Groovy Horse
1975The Further Adventures Of Noddy: The Great Car Race (Narrator)
1975Fawlty Towers"The Hotel Inspectors"
1976Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings (Narrator)
1976–78Star Turn
1976Space: 1999"Brian the Brain"
1977The Country Wife"BBC Play of the month episode 97"
1979Worzel Gummidge
1981Shillingbury Tales
1982The Good Old Days
1986Langley Bottom
1987When We Are Married
1987High and Dry
1993A Passion For Angling
1999Dalziel and Pascoe"Time to Go"
2000The Canterbury Tales"The Journey Back"
2003Last of the Summer Wine"In Which Gavin Hinchcliffe Loses the Gulf Stream"
2003Coronation StreetWally Bannister (Character played)
2005Down to Earth

"Hot Air"
"Tall Tales"

2007-10Doctor Who

"Voyage of the Damned" (2007)
"Partners in Crime" (2008)
"The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky" (2008)
"Turn Left" (2008)
"The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" (2008)
The End of Time (2009–10)

2009Never Mind The Buzzcocks
2010Catching the Impossible [12]
2010Would I Lie To You?
2011A Comedy Roast"Barbara Windsor: A Comedy Roast"
2011Bookaboo"The bears in the bed and the great big storm"
2013Old Jack's BoatTo be broadcast on CBeebies in the early part of 2013.


1957Yangtse Incident: The Story of HMS Amethyst
1959Make Mine a Million
Tommy the Toreador
1960Two-Way Stretch
The World of Suzie Wong
1961The Girl on the Boat
Nothing Barred
1962The Fast Lady
1963The Wrong Arm of the Law
The Mouse on the Moon
Carry On Jack
1964A Home of Your Own
Carry On Spying
Crooks in Cloisters
The Counterfeit Constable (French title: Allez France!)
1965You Must Be Joking
1966Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD
1967Casino Royale
1968Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River
1970The Railway Children
1978The Water Babies
1981Dangerous Davies - The Last Detective
1992Carry On Columbus


Chart singles

YearTitleUK peak position[3]Notes
1962"Hole In The Ground"Number 9One of Noël Coward's choices when guest on BBC Radio's Desert Island Discs
1962"Right Said Fred"Number 10Inspired the name of the band of the same name
1962"Gossip Calypso"Number 25Written by Trevor Peacock


1962A Combination Of Cribbins
1983The SnowmanNarrator
2005The Very Best of Bernard Cribbins


  1. ^ a b "Bernard Cribbins". Gavin Barker Associates. Retrieved 5 April 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c Jon Dennis "Old music: Bernard Cribbins – Right Said Fred", The Guardian (blog), 2 May 2012
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 127. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ which later became British Telecommunications when the two wings of the Post Office were demerged.
  5. ^ screenonline: Cribbins, Bernard (1928-) Biography
  6. ^ Gavin Barker Associates Ltd: Bernard Cribbins Biography
  7. ^ "Torchwood House". BBC. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  8. ^ "Into the Future!". Doctor Who Magazine: p. 4. 19 September 2007 
  9. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59808. p. 9. 11 June 2011.
  10. ^ BBC News (11 June 2011). "Bruce Forsyth knighthood heads Queen's Birthday Honours". 
  11. ^ "The Bernard Cribbins (Wilfred Mott) Knighthood Campaign". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  12. ^ "Catching The Impossible Films". Retrieved 2012-05-08. 

External links