Bernard Cribbins was meant to have bigger role in Doctor Who 60th anniversary before death aged 93
Posted by  badge Boss on Dec 03, 2023 - 01:30PM
Doctor Who fans were a ball of emotion as the late Bernard Cribbins appeared in the latest 60th anniversary episode (Picture: BBC)(Picture: BBC)

showrunner Russell T Davies has revealed Bernard Cribbins had been due to have a bigger role in the show before his death.

The second left fans in floods of tears as the late Cribbins made a surprise appearance .

Wild Blue Yonder saw the Doctor () and Donna Noble () trapped on a spaceship at the edge of the universe – and they weren’t alone.

Safely back to earth at the end of the episode, , played by Cribbins, andall around before Wilf revealed there was a new danger facing humanity.

Showrunner Russell has now confirmed Wilf’s role in the anniversary specials is over – however that hadn’t been the original plan.

In a sweet statement following the episode, Russel shared a photo on Instagram of David, Catherine and Cribbins, with the words ‘farewell old soldier.

Viewers were in bits to see Cribbins’ character reunite with David Tennant and Catherine Tate (Picture: BBC)

‘That’s goodnight and goodbye to our beloved Bernard. Wilf is mentioned in dispatches next week, all safe and sound, don’t worry, but that’s the only scene Bernard was able to film.

‘We had a wonderful time! We’d never lost touch, in all these years, so I phoned him up and asked him to come back. He sniffed and said, “Let me see the script.” We had a wonderful readthrough with 120 people at which he was adored by one and all. A lovely dinner in Cardiff where he regaled us with tales galore, twinkling as ever.’

He went on: ‘And then… we had a little more written, but it wasn’t to be; at 93 years old, the old soldier had given us his best, and stepped away. Night, Bernard, and thank you. I love you.’

Viewers were in bits as the Doctor embraced Wilf (Picture: BBC)

Thehad plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments, but it was when the pair made it safely back to earth that emotions at home really began running high.

Cribbins plays Donna’s grandfather, Wilfred Mott, in the series, and filmed his final scenes for the show just weeks before at the age of 93.

While it was known Cribbins would have a role in the special episodes, fans weren’t expecting to see the beloved character right at the end of episode two, and viewers shared their reactions on Twitter (X) as the show came to an end.

And, naturally, there were tears.

David, Catherine and Cribbins all returned for the special anniversary episodes (Picture: BBC)

‘Man, I’m gonna cry… RIP Bernard Cribbins,’ one person wrote, with another admitting ‘I wasn’t at all prepared for that ending,’ with the iconic gif of Cribbins’ character holding back tears from a previous episode of Doctor Who.

‘The way I legit BURST INTO TEARS when Bernard Cribbins appeared,’ another viewer wept.

‘I’m in absolute bits at the end of Wild Blue Yonder,’ one said, another agreeing they were ‘all kinds of emotional seeing Wilfred again.’

And as another put it simply: ‘I am SOBBING.’

The episode ended on a cliffhanger, with Wilfred revealing to Donna and The Doctor that the world was going mad – and fans will know the anniversary episodes finale is set to air next week, starring Neil Patrick Harris as the ultimate villain, The Toymaker.

And as the credits rolled, it offered a poignant tribute to the legendary actor, with the words ‘In loving memory of Bernard Cribbins, 1928 – 2022.’

The legendary actor died in July 2022, months after his wife Gillian (Picture: Getty Images Europe)

Cribbins died in July 2022, months after the death of Gillian, his wife of 66 years.

Tributes poured in around the world for the actor, including from Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies.

‘Bernard Cribbins (1928-2022) I love this man. I love him,’ he wrote.

‘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.’

After decades on screen and stage, Cribbins found a whole generation of new fans with his role in Doctor Who.