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 in Series 1 (1973) and Series 2 (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' most recent prominent role has been as Wilfred Mott, companion of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who.
Early Life Edit
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.
Early stage and record career Edit
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". In 1962 he recorded two comic songs, "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 candleabras.). Both were produced by George Martin for Parlophone, with music by Ted Dicks and lyrics by Myles Rudge. One source claimed that "Hole in the Ground" reached number 1 in the chart, and the other two songs reached high positions. The actual UK Singles Chart positions are given below.
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 Edit
He was the narrator of the British animated children's television series The Wombles in Series 1 (1973) and Series 2 (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. He also appeared reduced to OO gauge in adverts for Hornby model trains.
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), Down to Earth (2005) and "New Tricks (last Man Standing)" 2015.
Later stage career Edit
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.
Recent career Edit
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 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. 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. 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.