Bernard Cribbins and the TV shows that brought joy to generations of children

The entertainer has died at the age of 93.

Bernard Cribbins
Bernard Cribbins

Bernard Cribbins brought joy to generations of youngsters through his work on decades of children’s TV and film.

The veteran actor was the narrator of all 60 episodes of The Wombles, and made no fewer than 111 appearances on the children’s storytelling show Jackanory.

Cribbins was also known for starring in the 1970 film The Railway Children, playing station porter Albert Perks.

The film adaptation of E Nesbit’s book chronicles the adventures of three children forced to move from London to Yorkshire after their father is imprisoned for being falsely accused of selling state secrets.

Bernard Cribbins death
Bernard Cribbins reading an excerpt from Winnie The Pooh after he received the annual JM Barrie Award in 2014 (Nicholas Ansell/PA)

Dame Floella Benjamin, a doyen of children’s TV, described Cribbins as a “treasure for our nation’s children”.

His commitment to his art continued into his 90s, with recent appearances in Doctor Who and the CBeebies series Old Jack’s Boat bringing his talent to a new generation.

Speaking in 2011 when he was made an OBE for services to drama, he said providing the voices of characters such as Uncle Bulgaria, Tobermory and Orinoco was simple because of how The Wombles was written.

“The structure of the writing was such that you knew exactly where everybody was socially in that household,” he said.

In 2014, Cribbins was honoured with the JM Barrie Award for his work on children’s TV.

Joe Godwin, the then-director of BBC children’s programmes, said: “Bernard has been a big part of so many of our childhoods.”

Bernard Cribbins death
Bernard Cribbins with his OBE medal in 2011 (Chris Ison/PA)

Cribbins appeared in Doctor Who as Wilfred Mott, the grandfather of the Doctor’s companion Donna Noble, played by Catherine Tate.

Doctor Who frontrunner Russell T Davies was among the people paying tribute to Cribbins, writing on Instagram that he was lucky to have known him.

Alongside a picture of Cribbins, Davies said the actor had “loved being in Doctor Who”, adding: “He said, ‘Children are calling me grandad in the street.’”

Cribbins and his wife Gill, who died last year, could not have any children of their own.

“We lost one quite early on and that was the only time we got near it,” he told the Mirror in 2018.

“That was a long time ago now. It’s just one of those things and I consider myself very fortunate to have been given a job like Jackanory, which has been wonderfully popular and gives you a very warm feeling to think of all those who watched it as a child.”

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