British performer Bernard Cribbins has died at age 93, according to a statement from his agent. Cribbins was a performer best known for his work on Doctor Who, first as Tom Campbell, a companion to Peter Cushing’s Doctor in the 1966 film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 1250 A.D., and then as Wilfred Mott, a temporary companion to David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and the grandfather to Donna Noble, a regular companion from 2007 to 2010 played by Catherine Tate. Cribbins was also known for his novelty songs, including his 1962 recordings of “The Hole in the Ground” and his original “Right Said Fred,” both of which were top-ten hits on the U.K. singles chart. Cribbins will be remembered by a generation for being the narrator of the children’s show The Wombles from 1973 to 1975.
“He knew everyone! He’d talk about the Beatles and David Niven, and how he once sat on the stairs at a party impersonating bird calls with T H White,” said Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies in an Instagram tribute shared July 28. “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.”
In 2011, Cribbins was recognized for his contributions to drama, receiving an Order of the British Empire as part of the Queen’s birthday honors. At the time, he said that his “father would have been very proud.” He was presented the honor by Princess Anne. “It was lovely,” he said of their interaction. “We had a wee chat, we were rambling on, and then she said, ‘We mustn’t gossip,’ and sort of looked at her watch, and that was it.”