Thursday 28 July 2022
Such a sad day for so many of us because Bernard’s death means we will be denied his extraordinary talents to make us laugh and cry … and cry laughing. Sue and I still fall about when seeing him playing the ‘hotel inspector’ in Fawlty Towers.
His story telling skills were unmatched by anyone and he was never recognised in the way many of us felt he should be. Yes, he was awarded an OBE but no one could doubt he richly deserved the title Sir Bernard Cribbins.
The joy he provided for us millions along with inspiring so many children was wonderful, not least in ‘Old Jack’s Boat’. He told me many times how much he enjoyed telling those stories and during his hundred episodes, grew very fond of his doggy companion, Salty, who in turn loved Bernard. But then, didn’t we all.
I first had the privilege of working with him in the mid ’70’s when I asked him to narrate our RSPB film about Robins. He spoke our star robin’s thoughts so amusingly that he had them rocking in the isles at the Festival Hall and for years the film became a prime time fixture on BBC1 at Christmas.
When creating our ‘Passion for Angling’ series for the BBC, it was a no brainer to choose Bernard to describe the adventures of Chris Yates and Bob James and it was his dulcet tones that contributed so much to the success of the series.
Following that up with Martin Bowler’s ‘Catching the Impossible’, I wanted Bernard to be Martin’s angling companion and because he is such a good angler, he never failed us when required to catch a particular fish. We all became great friends and would have included Bernard in every ‘impossible’ challenge but he was very busy at the time, chasing David Tennant’s Dr.Who round the film sets at night. Even worse, he was suffering from cancer and had to put up with chemo every week. How he managed to successfully battle big carp and twenty pound pike after all those challenges was remarkable.
As the years rolled on, he became a bit lame due to his habit of jumping out of aircraft with the Paras and getting shot at in Palestine. He loved the Paras but hated the bullets!
When he came to stay with Sue and I and our two children, we naturally became even more fond of him. Katie and Peter just reminded me that Bernard has been making them laugh and smile all their lives and are tearful at this news, along no doubt with so many of todays children. He was such a lovely man, so kind and generous, amusing too of course and I wish I had the space to tell you some of his stories.
Oh, alright, just one then. Bernard described playing celebrity cricket with Fred Trueman at Lords when a naked lady streaker ran onto the pitch and Fred said “That’s the only thing that’s swung all day!”… and of course, all told by Bernard in a perfect Yorkshire accent.
Bernard has been described as a creative genius and non of us could ever doubt that. His extraordinary variety of talents means he will be missed by us all and having had the privilege of sharing a tiny portion of his life, his passing brings tears to my eyes. Rest in peace Bernard and catch another one for me please.