Bernard Cribbins obituary – Guardian
jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Wednesday 3rd August 2022
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Bernard Cribbins obituary – Guardian
Another obituary post taking us nearer to becoming an Obituary Blog. This time the amazing Bernard Cribbens. I loved most of the many roles he performed. Like Perks in The Railway Children, voice over in the Wombles and the great voice over in a RSPB short film about the Robin (I so, love this).
Over to the Guardian.
Character actor especially loved by young audiences for film and TV including Jackanory, The Wombles and The Railway Children
His first professional stage appearance was in 1943 and he never thought of retiring.
Bernard Cribbins in 2014.
During a full and varied career spanning more than 75 years as a much-loved, and very funny, character actor, Bernard Cribbins, who has died aged 93, was honoured by Bafta in 2009 with a special award for his work in children’s television. This encompassed story-telling in more than 100 episodes of the BBC’s Jackanory between 1966 and 1995; narrating and voicing all the furry creatures on all 60 episodes of The Wombles (1973-75); and gracing CBeebies as a retired fisherman spinning his yarns on Old Jack’s Boat (2013-15).
He explained his connection to young audiences by saying that his job was to look straight down the lens and imagine one child sitting there, transfixed. This attention, and affection, was visibly reciprocated in The Railway Children (1970), widely regarded as the best children’s movie made in Britain, when he played Albert Perks, the kindly old station porter on the platform where Bobbie (Jenny Agutter) and her siblings hope to be reunited with their father one day.
He also had a special relationship with Doctor Who fans, who relished his appearance in the second feature film, Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 (1966), with Peter Cushing landing the Tardis in a London laid waste by the deadly robots – and then his reincarnation as the wide-eyed amateur astronomer Wilfred Mott, grandfather to Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble, in the David Tennant Doctor Who years, 2007-10.
His range was such that it included vaudevillian appearances on the BBC’s long-running music hall showcase, The Good Old Days; knockabout comedy in two gangland capers with Peter Sellers, Two Way Stretch (1960) and The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963); West End farce – he played leading roles opposite Donald Sinden, then Richard Briers, in two of Ray Cooney’s signature smash hits, Not Now, Darling (1968) and Run For Your Wife (1983); and revues and musicals.
Cribbins even found success in the pop charts, thanks to the producer George Martin (before he took up with the Beatles) in 1962, singing two Top 10 novelty songs written by Myles Rudge and Ted Dicks, The Hole in the Ground, which Noël Coward claimed as the record he would save from the waves on Desert Island Discs, and Right Said Fred, both of them comic narratives of the class war. A third song that year, Gossip Calypso, written by Trevor Peacock (“Hear all about it, yak-a-yak-yak; every woman up at the window giving out the gossip and getting it back”) made the Top 30.
Cribbins knew a bit about poverty and deprivation. During the depression years in Oldham, Lancashire, there was little work for either of his parents, John Cribbins, a plumber’s mate, and Ethel (nee Clarkson), a corduroy weaver, and so young Bernard leapt at the offer of 15 shillings (75p) a week at the Oldham Coliseum in 1943. The theatre’s director, Douglas Emery, had spotted his talent in an amateur show on that stage. Cribbins was only 14 when he left St Anne’s elementary school to take up the offer of small parts and stage management. He stayed in the job for seven years, playing increasingly larger, then leading, roles, with an interruption in 1947 to complete his national service with the Parachute Regiment in Aldershot, Hampshire, and then in Palestine.
In 1949 he left to play in seasons at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, with the Piccolo Players; in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester; and at the new Queen’s theatre in Hornchurch, Essex. The last of these engagements led to his West End debut in 1956 in a musical version of The Comedy of Errors at the Arts theatre. The music was written by Julian Slade, who was instrumental in Cribbins joining his hit musical Salad Days at the Vaudeville in 1956; the cast also included Rudge, who would become a key colleague in Cribbins’s television and stage revue work. The previous year Cribbins had married Gillian McBarnet, his assistant stage manager at Oldham.
He divided his time in the 1960s between stage and screen. His first film was Tommy the Toreador (1959) starring Tommy Steele as a seaman turned bullfighter, and the Sellers collaborations led to a double whammy in 1964 of Carry On Jack (he played the lead role of Midshipman Albert Poop-Decker) and Carry On Spying (as one of four hopeless undercover agents led by Barbara Windsor as Daphne Honeybutt). On stage, his comedy credits included New Cranks (1960), a musical revue by the innovative choreographer John Cranko at the Lyric Hammersmith and a more traditional sketch and song revue, And Another Thing (1962), at the Fortune, written by Rudge and Dicks, with Anna Quayle and Lionel Blair.
Bernard Cribbins voiced all the furry creatures in the BBC children’s TV show The Wombles
The Cooney farce roles cemented Cribbins’s top-of-the-bill standing. In 1969, ITV gave him two series of his own comedy show, Cribbins, and a decade of high-profile television work culminated in Shillingbury Tales by Francis Essex, six hour-long episodes of everyday life in a fictional village, filmed on location in Aldbury, Hertfordshire. His character of Cuffy, the colourful tinker, was so successful that it earned him a 1983 spin-off series, Cuffy, in which he was joined by Linda Hayden and Jack Douglas from the original Shillingbury cast. In High and Dry (1987), he played another penniless eccentric, Ron Archer, who somehow acquires a decrepit pier on the Yorkshire coast just after the war.
A BBC Play of the Month in 1977 – William Wycherley’s sexually explicit Restoration masterpiece The Country Wife – in which he played the irascible husband of Helen Mirren’s lubricious Margery Pinchwife – was a reminder that he had been away from the stage for too long. After Run for Your Wife, Richard Eyre cast him as Nathan Detroit, succeeding Bob Hoskins, in his glorious National Theatre production of Guys and Dolls and, 10 years later, put him at the centre of his exquisite 1995 production of La Grande Magia by Eduardo De Filippo, also at the National. Cribbins played a magical mountebank who spirited away the wife of an electrified Alan Howard to her lover; the performance, said Michael Billington, was a revelation, combining the grizzled authority of a magus with clear hints of Cribbins’s experience at the tattier end of the showbiz spectrum.
As if to prove that he left no television stone unturned, he cropped up in Worzel Gummidge with Jon Pertwee, Last of the Summer Wine with Peter Sallis and Bill Owen and, in 2003, Coronation Street, in which he played Wally Bannister, a lecherous gardener passing himself off as a wealthy haulage firm owner. His later films included Carry On Columbus (1992), the last in the Carry On series; a celebrity cameo spot in the film version of Run For Your Wife (2012); and Mandie Fletcher’s Patrick (2018) co-starring Jennifer Saunders, Gemma Jones and Ed Skrein.
Cribbins and his wife, Gill, lived in Weybridge, Surrey. He was always happiest, when filming on location, if he could spend down-time either fishing or beachcombing. He was appointed OBE in 2011, and never once thought of retiring.
Gill died in 2021.
Bernard Joseph Cribbins, actor, born 29 December 1928; died 27 July 2022
TOP 3, 35 & 39 OF THE DAY
TOP 3, 35 & 39 of BERNARD CRIBBIN’s WORKS
TOP 3 Chart Singles of Bernard Cribbins
1 “Hole in the Ground” Charted at #9 One of Noël Coward’s choices when guest on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs
2 “Right Said Fred” Charted at #10 Inspired the name of the band of the same name
3 “Gossip Calypso” Charted at #25
TOP 35 TV Roles Bernard Cribbins appeared in:
YEAR TV CHARACTER
1 1956 David Copperfield Thomas Traddles
2 1960 Interpol Calling Episode: “Slow Boat to Amsterdam”
3 1961 Winning Widows
4 1965 Comedy Playhouse Ambrose Twomby Episode: “Here I Come Whoever I Am”
5 1966–1991 Jackanory Storyteller 114 appearances
6 1973–1975 The Wombles Narrator and Voices All 60 episodes
7 1975 Fawlty Towers Mr. Hutchinson Episode: “The Hotel Inspectors”
8 1976 Space: 1999 Captain Michael Episode: “Brian the Brain”
9 1977 Play of the Month Pinchwife Episode: “The Country Wife”
10 Once Upon a Classic Pyramid Episode: “Night Ferry”
11 1979 The Plank House Painter TV film
12 1981 Shillingbury Tales Cuffy 2 episodes
13 Worzel Gummidge Jolly Jack Episode: “The Golden Hind”
14 1982 It’s Your Move Neighbour TV film
15 1983 Tales of the Unexpected Charlie Krebs Episode: “The Memory Man”
16 Cuffy Cuffy Follett 6 episodes
17 1986 Langley Bottom Seth Raven 7 episodes
18 1987 High & Dry Ron Archer 7 episodes
19 Super Gran Officer P. Brain Episode: “Supergran and the Birthday Dambuster”
20 When We Are Married Herbert Soppitt TV film
21 1990 Bertie the Bat Narrator 10 episodes
22 1991 Tonight at 8.30 Mr. Wadhurst Episode: “Hands Across the Sea”
23 1996 Dennis and Gnasher Clint Katzenberger Voice; Episode: “Oil Strike”
24 1999 Dalziel and Pascoe Uncle Henry Episode: “Time to Go”
25 2000 The Canterbury Tales Carpenter Voice; Episode: “The Journey Back”
26 2003 Last of the Summer Wine Gavin Hinchcliffe Episode: “In Which Gavin Hinchcliffe Loses the Gulf Stream”
27 Barbara Frank “Guy Fawkes”
28 Coronation Street Wally Bannister 11 episodes
29 2005 Down to Earth Frank Cosgrove 3 episodes
30 2007–2010, 2023 Doctor Who Wilfred Mott 10 episodes
31 2013–2015 Old Jack’s Boat Old Jack All 47 episodes
32 2014 Midsomer Murders Duggie Wingate Episode: “The Flying Club”
33 2015 New Tricks DCI Ronald Sainsbury 2 episodes
34 2016 A Midsummer Night’s Dream Tom Snout TV film
35 The Wombles Great Uncle Bulgaria Voice; Episode: “Green Cake”
TOP 39 Films Bernard Cribbins appeared in:
YEAR FILM CHARACTER
1 1957 Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst Sonar Operator/1st Cribbage Player
2 1958 Davy Stage Hand, Collins Music Hall
3 Dunkirk Thirsty Sailor
4 1959 Make Mine a Million Jack
5 Tommy the Toreador Paco
6 1960 Two-Way Stretch Lennie Price
7 The World of Suzie Wong Otis
8 1961 Passport to China Pereira
9 Nothing Barred Newspaperman
10 The Best of Enemies Col. Brownlow
11 1962 The Girl on the Boat Peters
12 The Fast Lady Man on Stretcher
13 1963 The Wrong Arm of the Law Nervous O’Toole
14 The Mouse on the Moon Vincent Mountjoy
15 Carry On Jack Midshipman Albert Poop-Decker
16 1964 A Home of Your Own The Stonemason
17 Carry On Spying Harold Crump
18 Crooks in Cloisters Squirts
19 The Counterfeit Constable Bob, l’agent 202
20 1965 She Job
21 Cup Fever Policeman
22 You Must Be Joking Sgt. Clegg
23 1966 The Sandwich Man Harold – Photographer
24 Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. Tom Campbell
25 1967 Casino Royale Carlton Towers, Taxi Driver
26 1968 A Ghost of a Chance Ron
27 Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River Fred Davies
28 1970 The Railway Children Albert Perks
29 1972 Frenzy Felix Forsythe
30 1976 Night Ferry Pyramid
31 1978 The Water Babies Mr. Masterman/Voice of Eel
32 The Adventures of Picasso Gertrude Stein/Narrator
33 1981 Dangerous Davies – The Last Detective Dangerous Davies
34 1992 Carry On Columbus Mordecai Mendoza
35 2003 Blackball Mutley
36 2012 Run for Your Wife Hospital patient
37 A Fantastic Fear of Everything The Voice
38 2018 Patrick Albert
Narration and voice work
Cribbins was the narrator of the British animated children’s television series The Wombles from 1973 to 1975 and also played the character of the Water Rat in a 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 Antonia Barber book The Mousehole Cat. From 1974 to 1976, Cribbins narrated Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings.
In the 1960s Cribbins provided the voice of the character Tufty in RoSPA road safety films. He also provided the voice of Buzby, a talking cartoon bird that was the mascot for the Post Office. He also appeared in advertisements for Hornby model trains. In 1978, he provided one of two voiceovers in the electricity safety public information film Play Safe. The other voice artist was Brian Wilde; Wilde voiced the owl and Cribbins voiced the robin. In 1981, Music for Pleasure released a Swallows and Amazons audio book on tape cassette, read by Cribbins, abridged by Edward Phillips.
Cribbins also provided the voiceover work for A Passion For Angling, starring Chris Yates and Bob James (1993).[ In 2013 Cribbins played Old Bailey in the radio adaptation of Neverwhere, dramatised by Dirk Maggs and in 2015 he was among an ensemble cast in an audio production of The Jungle Book, in which he played the White Cobra.
Round Robin – BBC One – Mon 24th Dec 1979,
‘A bird’s-eye-view of what it’s like to be a British robin….’
“This Christmas the robin will be thrusting out his red breast from greetings cards, and cocking a friendly eye from the windowsill at the festive events in thousands of households… In this international award-winning film, Bernard Cribbins interprets a year in the life of the robin with a rare touch of charm and humour, as the robin stakes out his territory, avoids the local cat. makes a profitable ‘deal’ with the gardener, chats up the birds, and raises a family in the hedgerow.
Script and commentary by BERNARD CRIBBINS -Directed by HUGH MILES
An RSPB FILM UNIT production. BBC Bristol
REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
– Nicolas Chamfort
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine―and shadows will fall behind you.” ―Walt Whitman
Happiness is…listening to and watching Bernard Cribbins.
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
Our child has a great deal of willpower—and even more won’t power.
Love is…when it’s time for a coffee break.
PEARLS OF WISDOM
Happy wife = happy life.
A time for Bernard Cribbens to be Perks in The Railway Children…A time for Bernard Cribbins to be the voice of the Robin in RSPB’s film Round Robin.
©2022 Phil M Robinson