Bernard Cribbins, adored for his role as the wonderful grandfather of Doctor Who companion Donna Noble, Wilfred Mott, has died, Variety reports.
A decades-spanning career across film and television brought Cribbins many beloved roles, from guest turns in Fawlty Towers to his appearances in the Carry On series, as well as his roles in children’s television — most notably as the iconic voice behind the narration of the 1970s series The Wombles, and more recently the Children’s BBC series Old Jack’s Boat.
But Cribbins will forever be remembered for his time on Doctor Who — first, decades ago when he played police officer Tom Campbell, a companion to Peter Cushing’s Dr. Who in the big screen movie Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. at the height of “Dalekmania” in the 1960s. Cribbins returned to the program in its revived era to play Wilfred Mott, first introduced in the 2007 Christmas special “The Voyage of the Damned” in what was initially a one-off role before the character was reconfigured to return as the grandfather of then-incoming companion Donna Noble, played by Catherine Tate. Cribbins made multiple appearances across the fourth season of the show, as well as the series of specials that climaxed David Tennant’s time as the 10th Doctor — where he is best known for making an awful lot of Doctor Who fans cry in his most powerful scene.
“He loved being in Doctor Who. He said, ‘Children are calling me grandad in the street!’” Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies posted in an Instagram tribute to the actor. “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. He’d phone up and say, ‘I’ve got an idea! What if I attack a Dalek with a paintball gun?!’ OK, Bernard, in it went!”
Cribbins was set to reprise his role in the upcoming 60th anniversary Doctor Who special, alongside the returning David Tennant and Catherine Tate, although details as to his role have been kept under wraps.