Bernard Cribbins dies at 93

Tributes paid to veteran star of The Railway Children and Doctor Who

by Amber Wilkinson

Much-loved British character actor Bernard Cribbins - who starred in films includign The Railway Children and became a firm favourite with generations of children thanks to his television voice work including The Wombles and Moschops and reading books on Jackanory - has died at the age of 93.

Before cementing his legacy on the small screen, however, Cribbens enjoyed an extensive career on stage and film, starting out when he was in his mid-teens. A versatile star with excellent comic timing, he featured alongside Peter Sellers in prison break/heist comedy Two Way Stretch, and featured in a number of Carry On films.

Among his most famous rolls is that of station porter Albert Brooks in the 1970 adaptation of E Nesbit's The Railway Children. He also appeared in films as diverse as Alfred Hitchock's Frenzy, Doctor Who film Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. and The Mouse On The Moon. He would later go on to have a regular role in the TV version of Doctor Who, as companion Donna Noble's grandad Wilfred Mott.

In between acting, he also achieved a number of hit records in the Sixties, including Right Said Fred and Hole In The Ground. He received an OBE in 2011 and in 2018 he published a biography Bernard Who? 75 Years Of Doing Absolutely Everything.

In a statement, Cribbins' agent noted the star had lost his wife of 66 years, Gill, last year and added: "Bernard's contribution to British entertainment is without question. He was unique, typifying the best of his generation, and will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him."

Among those paying tribute was actor Robin Askwith. He posted a photo of the pair of them on Twitter and wrote: "Absolutely devastated by the passing of Bernard Cribbins. He was in everything and fantastic in everything. He did it all. On a personal note he encouraged me every step of the way. Even leaving “notes” on the scenery when I took over at The Criterion in Run For Your Wife. Gutted. RIP."

Doctor Who screenwriter Russell T Davies also paid tribute on Instagram. Sharing memories of working with the veteran star, he added: "He loved Gill with all his heart; he mentioned her in every conversation we ever had. A love story for the ages. I’m so lucky to have known him. Thanks for everything, my old soldier. A legend has left the world."

Singer Elaine Paige, wrote: "I'm so very sad. My dear pal Bernard Cribbins has died. We met on Anything Goes and 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. RIP"

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