Cribbins made his franchise debut as Tom Campbell, companion to Peter Cushing’s Doctor, in the 1966 film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. But he is more commonly associated with his recurring role as Wilfred “Wilf” Mott, grandfather of Catherine Tate’s Donna, appearing in a total of 10 episodes during David Tennant’s stint as the Doctor.
“I love this man. I love him,” Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies wrote on Instagram Thursday. “He loved being in Doctor Who. He said, ‘Children are calling me grandad in the street!’ His first day was on location with Kylie Minogue, but all eyes, even Kylie’s, were on Bernard. He’d turned up with a suitcase full of props, just in case, including a rubber chicken. And what an actor. Oh, really though, what a wonderful actor.
“We once took him to the TV Choice Awards and sent him up on his own to collect the award, and the entire room stood up and cheered him. That’s a lovely memory,” Davies continued. “He’d phone up and say, ‘I’ve got an idea! What if I attack a Dalek with a paintball gun?!’ Okay, Bernard, in it went! He loved [his late wife] 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.”
The official Doctor Who Twitter account also posted the following statement: “We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Bernard Cribbins Known best to Doctor Who fans as the Doctor’s friend and Donna’s grandad Wilfred Mott, Bernard leaves behind a long legacy in film and TV.”
Across the pond, Cribbins was a legend of children’s programming. His myriad credits included The Wombles (1973-75), Jackanory (1966-1991) and Old Jack’s Boat (2013-2015). He also played station porter Albert Perks in the 1970 film The Railway Children. Additional credits included barman Felix Forsythe in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1972 film Frenzy, and hotel guest Mr. Hutchinson in the classic Fawlty Towers episode “The Hotel Inspectors.”
In 2009, Tate presented Cribbins with the BAFTA Special Award at the EA British Academy Children’s Awards. In 2011, he was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to drama.