John Barrowman and Doctor Who cast remember ‘national treasure’ Bernard Cribbins

The beloved children’s TV star and entertainer died on Thursday aged 93.

28 July 2022

Doctor Who stars including John Barrowman and John Simm and have paid tribute to “national treasure” Bernard Cribbins following his death aged 93.

The beloved children’s TV star and entertainer played Wilfred Mott, the grandfather of the Doctor’s companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) between 2007 and 2010 and is due to appear in a 2023 episode celebrating the programme’s 60th anniversary.

Barrowman, who played Captain Jack Harkness in the popular BBC show and its spinoff Torchwood, praised Cribbins as a “teacher and mentor” who had showed him the “subtleties of comic timing and stage craft”.

The Sun Military Awards
John Barrowman (PA)

“Not to mention where to get the best fish and chips and Custard Cream doughnuts in Soho on two show days – and oh our toffee eating competition just before we would go onstage.”

He continued: “Bernie was a true entertainer with a glorious career that many could only dream of.

“Every show I landed, when I received my MBE, or if it was just an article in the newspaper he read that mentioned me he picked up the phone and would chat and congratulate or give his insight as to what was to be celebrated or navigated.

“Bernard Cribbins was a friend, a part of our Doctor Who family, and a national treasure.”

Barrowman added: “I am shedding tears as I write this. I will miss him and our phone calls.

“Love you Bernie.”

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies shared a picture of Cribbins playing Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

2019 Edinburgh TV Festival
Russell T Davies (PA)

He wrote: “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.

“He’d turned up with a suitcase full of props, just in case, including a rubber chicken. And what an actor. Oh, really though, what a wonderful actor. We once took him to the TV Choice Awards and sent him up on his own to collect the award, and the entire room stood up and cheered him.

“That’s a lovely memory. He’d phone up and say ‘I’ve got an idea! What if I attack a Dalek with a paintball gun?!’ Okay, Bernard, in it went!”

Davies said he felt “so lucky” to have known Cribbins, adding: “Thanks for everything, my old soldier. A legend has left the world.”

Simm, who played the villainous renegade Time Lord, The Master, in Doctor Who, also paid tribute, writing on Instagram: “Farewell Bernard. Loved him. He would happily do all the Wombles voices on command… actually transporting me back in time, for real!

“I’m forever in your debt @russelltdavies63 for giving me the chance to meet/know/work with him. What a man. What an actor. What a life! An actual legend. God bless him.”

Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss also paid tribute, writing on Twitter: “There was no one quite like Cribbins. A gifted comic actor with an incredible seam of pathos and real heart.

“From Sellers to Star Turn, Wombles to Wilf. I once gushed to him about his lovely performance in Hammer’s ‘She’. That afternoon he was off to play 5 aside – aged almost 90.”

Doctor Who actress Georgia Tennant, who is also the daughter of fifth Doctor Peter Davison and wife of 10th Doctor David Tennant, posted a short tribute on Instagram.

She said: “There aren’t many people in this world who inspire you to name multiple kids after them. That’s how magic Bernard was.”

A message posted on the official Doctor Who Twitter page added: “We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Bernard Cribbins.

“Known best to Doctor Who fans as the Doctor’s friend and Donna’s grandad Wilfred Mott, Bernard leaves behind a long legacy in film and TV.”

Figures from Cribbins’ time as a children’s TV presenter also shared their memories of him.

Dame Floella Benjamin tweeted: “I adored working with #BernardCribbins back in the 80’s.

“He was a creative genius, great storyteller and knew just how to communicate with an audience. He has left a lasting legacy.”

One of his most memorable stage roles was playing Moonface Martin in Anything Goes alongside Elaine Paige at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1989.

Musical theatre star Paige 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.”

Sir Tim Rice, the lyricist best known for his work on shows such as Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Andrew Lloyd Webber, also remembered Cribbins for his turn in Anything Goes.

He tweeted: “RIP Bernard Cribbins. Brilliant film/theatre actor. Lovely chap.

“Got to know him co-producing Anything Goes w/@elaine_paige (rare example of my co-production that didn’t lose a packet).

“BC a brill Moonface Martin. And his great hit records…Hole in The Ground, Right Said Fred.”

There were also tributes from the world of music, with artists such as Boy George and the 1990s band Right Said Fred, who named themselves after his hit novelty song, sharing their memories online.

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.