Bernard Cribbins dies aged 93

Thursday 28th July 2022, 11:31am

  • Oldham-born actor Bernard Cribbins has died aged 93
  • The entertainer was beloved for a range of film and television roles including his own sketch shows and sitcoms
  • He also enjoyed a string of hit novelty records during the 1960s
Cribbins. Bernard Cribbins. Copyright: Thames Television

Actor, comedian and entertainer Bernard Cribbins has died. He was 93.

Born in Oldham on 29th December 1928, he entered showbusiness aged just 14 when he joined the local repertory theatre company, and had recently filmed scenes for the next series of Doctor Who.

His agent said in a statement: "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."

In a lengthy career that spanned eight decades, he became a beloved fixture of British television with a succession of much-loved and impactful roles, ranging from children's' series to drama, and also enjoyed large amounts of film and theatrical work.

Two Way Stretch. Image shows from L to R: Ethel (Liz Fraser), George 'Jelly' Knight (David Lodge), Mrs. Price (Irene Handl), Lennie Price (Bernard Cribbins), Dodger Lane (Peter Sellers)

Cinematic roles saw him star alongside greats including Sid James, Peter Sellers, Norman Wisdom, Ronald Fraser, Barbara Windsor, Leslie Phillips, James Robertson-Justice and Kenneth Williams, with roles in three Carry On films - Jack, Spying and Columbus - and other features such as Crooks In Cloisters, The Sandwich Man, The Girl On The Boat, The Wrong Arm Of The Law, Two Way Stretch, Make Mine A Million and Tommy The Toreador.

In the 1960s, he had a string of hit novelty records, notably Right, Said Fred, which reached number 10 in the charts sixty years ago this month, and The Hole In The Ground, which reached number 9.

On television, he will be best remembered for roles in Doctor Who and as the narrator of the iconic 1970s' children's' series The Wombles, but had a string of starring comedy roles including his own self-titled sketch show, Cribbins.

Bernard Cribbins also starred in sitcom Langley Bottom, written by John Junkin and Barry Cryer; High & Dry, a series spun-off from Dad's Army; and Shillingbury Tales spin-off Cuffy.

He was also the focus of a range of sitcom pilots during the 1960s, which saw him take on such diverse roles as an unlucky-in-love 32 year-old singleton; a professional male escort; a hospital patient with troubling relatives; and a monk. Guest roles included appearances with Tommy Cooper; in the beloved children's comedy Worzel Gummidge; early 2000s comedy Barbara; and a particularly memorable turn as a troublesome guest in Fawlty Towers.

Fawlty Towers. Image shows from L to R: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), Mr. Hutchinson (Bernard Cribbins), Miss Gatsby (Renee Roberts), Miss Tibbs (Gilly Flower). Copyright: BBC

Having served in Palestine during his National Service in the latter half of the 1940s, he received the General Service Medal, a special BAFTA, and was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2011. Gillian McBarnet, an actress whom he met at Oldham Rep, was his wife from 1955 until her death last year. They had no children.

Cribbins - The Complete Series

Comedy legend Bernard Cribbins had been a key presence in British film and television comedy for over a decade before he landed his own headlining television series at the tail-end of the 1960s. An off-beat revue of quickfire sketches in the "Cribbins style", this fast-moving mixture of comedy and song (including chart hits The Hole In The Ground, Gossip Calypso and Right Said Fred) featured a gallery of outrageous characters in a myriad of seemingly inexhaustible situations! Bank clerk, burglar, tramp, librarian, cowboy and even spaceman - Cribbins is these, and much more!

With comic support from Sheila Steafel, The Benny Hill Show's Bob Todd and the always glamorous Maddie Smith, this zany mix of fun and music also guest stars Patrick Cargill, Dennis Price and Dad's Army's Bill Pertwee. Written by sitcom legends Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke (then riding high on the success of Father, Dear Father), this set features all twelve editions from both series of Cribbins.

First released: Monday 10th September 2018

  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 2
  • Minutes: 300
  • Catalogue: 7954931

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If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

Bernard Cribbins - Bernard Who?: 75 Years Of Doing Just About Everything

Bernard Cribbins's life has been an eventful one. In 1943, he left school aged fourteen and joined Oldham Repertory Company where he earned fifteen bob for a seventy-hour week. After being called up for National Service in 1946 he became a paratrooper and spent several months in Palestine being shot at. On returning home, and to the theatre, Bernard was eventually approached by George Martin, then an A&R man for Parlophone Records, who suggested he made a record.

Just months away from producing The Beatles, Martin asked Bernard to come to Abbey Road Studios in north London and, after teaching him how to sing into a microphone, they eventually recorded two hit singles - The Hole In The Ground and Right Said Fred. These, together with appearances in now classic films such as Two Way Stretch and The Wrong Arm Of The Law (not to mention a certain television programme called Jackanory), catapulted Bernard to stardom and, by the time he started filming The Railway Children in 1970, he was already a national treasure.

Since then, Bernard's CV has been an A-Z of the best entertainment that Britain has to offer, and, thanks to programmes such as the aforementioned Jackanory, The Wombles, and, more recently, Old Jack's Boat, he has become the voice of many millions of childhoods.

Seventy-five years in the making and packed with entertaining anecdotes, Bernard Who? tells the wonderful story of one of the longest and most celebrated careers in show business.

First published: Thursday 11th October 2018

Not in the UK?

Fear not! Many items can still be ordered. Amazon in the UK delivers to many international territories, whilst their Australia, USA and Canada stores also supply many equivalent or imported items.

If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

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