Doctor Who’s David Tennant, Russell T. Davies And More Pay Tribute After Companion Bernard Cribbins’ Death

Sad news hit the world of Doctor Who this morning, as it was announced Bernard Cribbins, the actor who played popular companion Wilfred “Wilf” Mott, is dead at the age of 93. After the news broke, several prominent people associated with the series, including David Tennant and Russell T. Davies, shared their fondest memories in tribute of the man’s career. 

Working with Cribbins several times throughout his span as the 10th Doctor, David Tennant got to share the screen with the British entertainment legend from time to time. Most notably, Wilfred Mott was the featured companion in Tennant’s heartbreaking Doctor Who two-part finale, “The End of Time.” In a short, but respectful statement, David Tennant was reported to have reacted on social media (via The Mirror) as follows: 

Sad news that Bernard Cribbins has passed away.

Shepherding that Doctor Who collaboration was then-showrunner Russell T. Davies, who cast Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott in the 2007 Christmas special “Voyage of the Damned.” What was initially a one-off appearance turned into a recurring role for Cribbins, as health concerns forced the role of Donna Noble’s father to be written out. 

Thus Wilf was retconned as the grandfather to Catherine Tate’s companion, which allowed Bernard Cribbins to return several times throughout Davies’ tenure. Here’s how Russell T. Davies paid tribute to Cribbins’ memory:

All of the history between Russell T. Davies and Bernard Cribbins allowed for one final outing with Wilf. As Cribbins and Catherine are both returning for the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special, Wilf and Donna will get one last adventure together. In fact, it was apparently Bernard Cribbins’ participation that spurred a major change to the TARDIS, as it now more wheelchair accessible. 

Other Doctor Who veterans paid their respects to the memory of Cribbins, who was also known for appearances in shows like Faulty Towers and The Wombles, as well several films in the Carry On series. With a storied resume that also included an appearance in non-canonical movies like the Doctor Who adjacent Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and 1967’s non-EON spoof movie Casino Royale, the man had plenty of stories to tell. 

Which is where former Who writer/performer Mark Gatiss comes in with his tribute. Gatiss tweeted his remembrance, which read as follows: 

There was no one quite like Cribbins. A gifted comic actor with an incredible seam of pathos and real heart. From Sellers to Star Turn, Wombles to Wilf. I once gushed to him about his lovely performance in Hammer’s ‘She’. That afternoon he was off to play 5 aside - aged almost 90.

Bernard Cribbins’ work was so legendary that it spanned generations of fans. This just so happens to include comedian Matt Lucas, who played the similarly upgraded companion Nardole during Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor run on Doctor Who. Sharing a selfie with Cribbins from a performance, a message also accompanied the tweet. 

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The legendary wit, warmth, and wisdom of Bernard Cribbins won't soon be forgotten. Collaborators and fans alike will continue to admire his work, with thanks that it exists in the first place. CinemaBlend would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Bernard Cribbins, as they navigate this difficult time.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.