Nicholas T Ansell/PA via AP, file
LONDON — Bernard Cribbins, a beloved British entertainer whose seven-decade career ranged from bawdy comedies ‘Carry On’ to children’s television and ‘Doctor Who’, has died. He was 93 years old.
Agent Gavin Barker Associates announced Cribbins’ death on Thursday.
“Bernard’s contribution to British entertainment is beyond doubt,” he said. “He was unique, representing the best of his generation, and he will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him.”
A warm and avuncular character actor, Cribbins was a childhood presence for several generations of Britons. He played station porter Albert Perks in the classic 1970 film ‘The Railway Children’ and voiced all the characters in ‘The Wombles’, a 1970s animated series about a family of burrowing creatures living under the Wimbledon Common of London.
Cribbins was also the voice of road safety squirrel Tufty Fluffytail in a series of public information films and held the record for the most appearances – over 100 – on the children’s storytelling television series “Jackanory “.
Born into a poor family in Oldham, in the North West of England, in 1928, Cribbins left school in his early teens and got his start as a stage manager and small player in a regional repertory theater .
He moved on to West End productions before appearing in a dizzying array of British films, including the 1960 comedy ‘Two-Way Stretch’ alongside Peter Sellers; 1966 “Doctor Who” spin-off “Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 AD”; the 1967 James Bond parody “Casino Royale”; and one of Alfred Hitchcock’s last thrillers, “Frenzy” in 1972.
He appeared in several “Carry On” movies, was a memorable guest star on the classic sitcom “Fawlty Towers,” and had top 10 hits with the comedy songs “Hole in the Ground” and “Right Said.” Fred”.
A younger generation knew Cribbins as Wilfred Mott, a companion of David Tennant’s titular Doctor, when “Doctor Who” was revived in the early 21st century. He appeared in another BBC children’s series, ‘Old Jack’s Boat’, between 2013 and 2015, and filmed scenes earlier this year for an upcoming 60th anniversary special of ‘Doctor Who’.
“Doctor Who” showrunner Russell T. Davies remembered Cribbins as “a wonderful actor.”
“I’m so lucky to have known him,” Davies said. “Thank you for everything, my old soldier. A legend has left the world.”
Cribbins’ wife of 66 years, Gill, died last year.