A widely respected character actor in the UK, Cribbins has appeared in many films and TV series over the years. He is particularly remembered for his role in the film The Railway Children, his narration and voices on the children's television programme The Wombles and for being a reader on Jackanory more than a hundred times. His Doctor Who-related works have included appearing in an episode of Sydney Newman's series The Avengers, as well as an episode of Jon Pertwee's children's show Worzel Gummidge. He also played the taxi driver in the 1967 licensed spoof James Bond film Casino Royale.
Cribbins was one of the actors considered for the role of the Fourth Doctor, but was turned down after making a statement saying he wanted to bring violence into Doctor Who. He also narrated the audio version of the BBC novel Beautiful Chaos.
Only weeks short of forty years after his appearance in the second Daleks movie, Cribbins rejoined the Doctor Who universe, when a photograph of him at a wedding was used in the BBC's tie-in website for Torchwood House, launched in conjunction with the airing of Tooth and Claw.
A year and a half later, Cribbins made his debut on the series itself, playing news peddler Wilfred Mott in the 2007 Christmas episode, Voyage of the Damned. Cribbins contributed to Mott's back-story by wearing his own Parachute Regiment insignia on Mott's cap. Before the episode aired, Cribbins was contracted to portray Mott as on a recurring basis, as the maternal grandfather of incoming companion Donna Noble, in response to the death of actor Howard Attfield who had portrayed Donna's father a year earlier. (TV: The Runaway Bride) Cribbins thus appeared as Mott in the 2008 episodes Partners in Crime, The Sontaran Stratagem, The Poison Sky, Turn Left, The Stolen Earth (which featured him fighting Daleks as he had done as Tom Campbell in Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., before most of the cast were born) and Journey's End, with the concept that Mott had had a bout of Spanish flu at the time of Donna's wedding in The Runaway Bride, explaining his absence. Showrunner Russell T Davies happily used Cribbins' idea that a paint-gun could be used against the Daleks in The Stolen Earth — "bit of paint on the eye, it'd be blinded!" he told Davies — when Wilf uses a paint-gun against a Dalek (which promptly clears the blockage and declares "My vision is not impaired!"), and a cartoon depicting Cribbins v Dalek ("Fighting the Daleks since '66!") was included in The Writer's Tale. Cribbins also ad-libbed one of the episode's best lines during shooting; after Rose Tyler arrives to blow up the Dalek threatening Wilf, and seeing her huge sci-fi gun, he holds up his paint-gun and asks, "D'you wanna swap?" He returned to the role in 2009 for the final David Tennant specials, the two-part The End of Time. In these final episodes, Mott was identified as the Doctor's companion. Eighty years old at the time of filming, Cribbins became the oldest actor to ever play a companion.
His long-maintained association with Doctor Who is surpassed only by those of Carole Ann Ford, William Russell and Nicholas Courtney. He is one of only a few actors to appear in both the TV series and one of the 1960s movies, and the only one to have portrayed a companion in both. In fact, he is the first actor to have portrayed two different companions, although the 1960s films and the TV series do not share continuity.
Cribbins starred as Dangerous Davies in the 1970s movies based on The Last Detective series of books. Peter Davison would star as Dangerous Davies in the 2000s revival.
Director Barnaby Edwards cast Cribbins in Horror of Glam Rock as fulfilment of a childhood dream, after Edwards had spent many years listening to Cribbins' narrations of Winnie the Pooh. Both Cribbins and Edwards are fairly certain that Russell T Davies offered him the role of Wilfred Mott on the TV series because of his performance in Glam Rock.
In March 2013, Bernard once again partnered up with Jacqueline King in a Doctor Who edition of Pointless Celebrities. Not only did they win a "Pointless" trophy each, but they also won the jackpot of £2,500. While Jacqueline gave her share to the Northumbrian Lifeboats, Bernard gave his to Sparks.
As Wilfred Mott
- Voyage of the Damned
- Partners in Crime
- The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky
- Turn Left
- The Stolen Earth / Journey's End
- The End of Time
The Tenth Doctor Adventures
The Eighth Doctor Adventures
- Internet Movie Database at the
- REF: Who-ology: The Official Miscellany
- Nicholas Rice (28 July 2022). Bernard Cribbins, Doctor Who Star and Wombles Narrator, Dead at 93: 'A Legend Has Left the World'. People. Archived from the original on 28 July 2022.
- Torchwood House Wedding Quotes
- Big Finish Podcast: Eighth Doctor Retrospective, 09 February 2011