DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Film

Why BAFTA was wrong to omit Bernard Cribbins from awards tributes

As always, the 2023 BAFTA awards paid tribute to film legends we lost in the last year. So why wasn't the great Bernard Cribbins included?

Bernard Cribbins poses for photographers as he arrives for the British Academy Children's Awards in 2014

Bernard Cribbins poses for photographers as he arrives for the British Academy Children's Awards in 2014. Image: Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo

When last night’s BAFTAs ceremony paid tribute to the film figures we lost in the past year, there was one name that was conspicuous by its absence. “Where the hell,” a thousand voices suddenly cried out on Twitter, “is Bernard Cribbins?”

And it’s a good point. The hugely loved actor, whose death in July of 2022 prompted an outpouring of affection, absolutely should have been recognised. When questioned about the omissions a representative from BAFTA tweeted: “With limited time in our broadcast it isn’t possible to honour all those who have sadly passed away. Bernard features in our online records and given his influential work in TV, he will be considered for inclusion in the next Television Awards broadcast”.

Fair point. Bernard Cribbins probably is best known for TV. Modern viewers will know him for his role as Wilfred Mott, the grandfather of Catherine Tate’s Donna in Doctor Who, a part in which he was absolutely magnificent – the moment he begs David Tennant not to die in 2010’s The End of Time is as powerful as anything nominated for this year’s movie gongs. But his career reaches back far further than noughties sci-fi, and it included several notable movie appearances.

Most famously, Bernard Cribbins appeared as the loveable Mr Perks in the beloved 1970 classic The Railway Children; probably the most memorable character in the film. He’s wonderful – heartbreaking and funny and mischievous. He’s the heart of that piece. Years before he was cast in modern Doctor Who he was marvellous in the non-canon 1966 big screen outing Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D, playing opposite Peter Cushing’s Doctor (check his comic timing in this scene).

He was in the surrealist James Bond comedy Casino Royal in 1967, was an occasional part of the Carry On Team (Carry On Jack, Carry On Spying and Carry On Columbus, though the less said about that one the better), and starred in a slew of great British comedies – opposite Diana Dors in The Counterfeit Constable, alongside Barbara Windsor in Crooks In the Cloisters (a Carry On in all but name). Cribbins continued to have small movie roles for the rest of his life, most recently in Mandy Fletcher’s British Pug comedy Patrick.

The latter half of his career focused more on television, that’s undeniable true, but in those roles he was so good. His rheumy-eyed, brilliantly funny and brilliantly sad performance in Doctor Who is the highlight, but he was memorable every single time he was on screen, from narrating The Wombles to guest spots in everything from Tales of the Unexpected to Midsomer Murders to Coronation Street. Always likeable. Always funny. He charmed you.

In a BAFTA ceremony that found time to honour the late Queen, who for all of her great work only ever played herself and certainly never shot a Dalek with a paintball gun, would it have been that hard to paste a JPG into a powerpoint presentation? For someone who has made us laugh and cry that much? Just for The Railway Children alone, if nothing else?

The BAFTA TV awards had better make up for it. And don’t get me started on this year’s Brit’s not acknowledging his 1962 hit single Right Said Fred.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Why Sasquatch Sunset is so much more than just a gross-out comedy in Chewbacca drag
Jesse Eisenberg and Christophe Zajac-Denek in Sasquatch Sunset
Film

Why Sasquatch Sunset is so much more than just a gross-out comedy in Chewbacca drag

Netflix's Hit Man is what we used to call 'a good time at the movies' – but times have changed
Glen Powell in Hit Man
Film

Netflix's Hit Man is what we used to call 'a good time at the movies' – but times have changed

Viggo Mortensen on Trump, corruption and why classic Westerns are like the best poetry
Viggo Mortensen in The Dead Don't Hurt
Film

Viggo Mortensen on Trump, corruption and why classic Westerns are like the best poetry

Furiosa director George Miller on the function of stories and why Mad Max is a 'cautionary tale'
Furiosa
Film

Furiosa director George Miller on the function of stories and why Mad Max is a 'cautionary tale'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know