Obituary: Bernard Cribbins, actor best remembered for The Wombles, The Railway Children and Fawlty Towers

Bernard Cribbins, the actor who died aged 93, was one of Britain’s most accomplished post-war practitioners of whimsical light comedy and farce, an unexpectedly adept exponent of silly songs that crept up the pop charts, and a fixture of British cinema throughout the 1960s and 1960s 1970s.

With his curly hair, long face, sad, honest eyes, protruding chin, and unerring kindness, Cribbins has embodied a character of somber innocence and vulnerability in numerous plays, films, and television programs. He also stored it in the 1960s Continue films, played the argumentative bartender in Alfred Hitchcock’s rage (1972) and on TV the obnoxious Mr. Hutchinson, suspected of being an undercover hotel inspector FawltyTowers (1975).

Wry, cheerful, dejected or self-pitying, Cribbins could adapt his voice to a variety of tones and accents and was a particular favorite on children’s television from 1973 as a narrator and many voices The women.

He starred in his own ill-fated series, cribs (1969), which was canceled after two seasons, and later in more successful ones like Cuffy (1983), Langley below (1986) and high and dry (1987).

He read more Jackanory Stories Like No Other and received a Bafta in 2009 for his children’s television work. “Kids television is so hectic now that they’ve neglected the basics of traditional storytelling,” he noted.

He won genuine admiration for his amiable portrayal of Albert Perks, the quirky porter in ‘

In 2007, Cribbins won a new generation of fans when he starred alongside David Tennant Doctor Who as Time Lord’s sidekick Wilfred Mott, playing the retired fisherman in the CBeebies series Old Jack’s boat (2013-14).

While appearing in revues and comedies in the West End in the 1960s, Cribbins first ventured onto the pop charts folk song. Produced by George Martin at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios just before Martin began recording The Beatles, Cribbins followed in 1962 with three top 30 novelty hits, hole in the floor (who climbed to #9), Right, said Fred (No. 10) and Gossip Calypso (No. 25). In 1984 he was the narrator on the album by The Snowman.

In the cinema he was cast in several Continue comedies, including keep going jack and Keep spying (both 1964), but he refused to join the regular ensemble. He won genuine admiration for his amiable portrayal of Albert Perks, the quirky porter in The train kids (1970), perhaps his best-known role, and one for which he was nominated for a Bafta for Best Supporting Actor.


Bernard Cribbins with actresses Sally Thomsett (left) and Jenny Agutter during filming of The Railway Children

The son of a fellow plumber, Bernard Joseph Cribbins was born on December 29, 1928 in Oldham, north-west England. He made his stage debut at the Oldham Repertory Theater aged 13 and joined the company as a professional in 1943.

His first television role was there The Black Tulipfollowed by an adjustment of David Copperfield (both 1956).

In the 1960s, Cribbins acted in no fewer than 20 films, mostly as workers, petty criminals or police officers. He rose to prominence on television in the 1970s as the narrator of the animated series The womenwhich also provides the voices for the various characters.

In 1979 he played Gertrude Stein in Wilfrid Brambell’s Alice B. Toklas in the surreal Swedish film comedy The Adventures of Picasso. That same year, Cribbins collapsed during rehearsals for the farce forty love and she was found to be suffering from an acute form of Ménière’s disease.

In November 2014 he received the JM Barrie Award in recognition of his career in children’s broadcasting. Outside of work, Cribbins enjoyed fly fishing, golf and skeet shooting. his autobiography, Bernhard Who? 75 years do almost everythingreleased in 2018.

He married Gillian McBarnet, his assistant when he was stage manager at Oldham Rep, in 1955. She died last year.

(© Telegraph Media Group Ltd. 2022)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022] Obituary: Bernard Cribbins, actor best remembered for The Wombles, The Railway Children and Fawlty Towers

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