Bernard Cribbins (1928-) b. Oldham, Lancashire, England.
Bernard Cribbins was born on 29th December 1928 in Oldham, Lancashire, to John Edward and Ethel Cribbins (nee Clarkson).
He joined the Oldham Repertory Theatre as a young boy and went on to serve an apprenticeship there, also joining the Piccolo Players of Manchester, before being forced to take a break to fulfill his National Service obligations, when, in his late teens, he served with the Parachute Regiment.
On leaving the Paras, he enrolled with the Queen’s Players in Hornchurch, Essex where he continued to learn his craft. And by his late twenties, he had made his first West End theatre appearance, in 1956 at the Arts Theatre playing the two Dromios in A Comedy of Errors. He also co-starred in the first West End productions of Not Now Darling, There Goes the Bride and Run for Your Wife and he also starred in the revue And Another Thing, and recorded a single of a song from the show entitled “Folksong”. To follow up this recording, he also released three singles in 1962, achieving UK singles chart success with Hole in the Ground, which reached number 9, Right, Said Fred (10) and Gossip Calypso (25).
Cribbins had by then begun to appear on the big screen, with his early roles coming in The Yangtse Incident, Tommy the Toreador, Two Way Stretch and Wrong Arm of the Law, and he went on to appear in two of the original Carry On films, Spying and Jack (his favourite of all the Carry Ons) as well as the second Doctor Who film Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD, and then, famously as the station porter, Perks, in The Railway Children in 1970.
His vocal talents have also always been in great demand – he narrated the acclaimed BBC radio adaptation of The Wind in the Willows and provided the voice of the Tufty character for a series of RoSPA road safety films in the 1960s, before providing the voices for the Wombles of Wimbledon in the early 70s. He narrated more stories (111) than any other presenter on the children’s series Jackanory and provided voices for a number of other radio stories.
Amongst his numerous television appearances he played the part of spoon salesman Mr. Hutchinson in the Fawlty Towers episode The Hotel Inspectors and he also provided the voice of Buzby, the talking cartoon bird that the Post Office used for their TV advertising campaigns. He also advertised Hornby Model Train sets, appearing as a character reduced to OO gauge alongside the trains!
In 1981 he played Dangerous Davies in the film of the same name and continued to appear in films right through to the late 90s, including in 1992, the final Carry On – the much maligned Carry on Columbus. His last film appearance was in Blackball in 2003, since when he has concentrated on his TV work, most notably as Wilfred Mott in the Dr Who series and has recently made a welcome return to narrating children’s stories on the BBC’s Cbeebies channel.