Here are transcripts from two BBC interviews with Bernard Cribbins back in 2008, around the time of the transmission of ‘The Stolen Earth’ and ‘Journey’s End’. One’s from ‘The One Show’, the other’s from ‘Breakfast News’, but I’ve merged them for the sake of convenience.
Q: What’s Wilf like to play?
He’s a very nice character. He’s an avuncular, in a way, granddad, who is in cahoots with his grand-daughter, Donna, against Mum really, because Mum is pernickety and niggles them both. I say at one point ‘Was she nagging you?’, because she comes up to the allotment with a cup of tea. It’s a lovely relationship with Catherine, and with Jacks who plays Mum.
Q: It must have been great fun for you to get the call, having been in the film in 1966.
A: Yes, forty-two years ago! It’s unbelievable. That was with Mr. Cushing, who was a totally different Doctor, he was a waffly old professor, very stereotyped professor, and then you’ve got David, who’s on springs all the time, he’s wonderful. I think I’d have to say that David’s my favourite Doctor of all of them. I think Tom Baker – sorry, Tom – runs him a close second, but I think David’s the guv’nor, for me.
Q: Why is that?
A: It’s his intensity. He’s also, he’s a damned good actor, it’s a very intense, good acting performance. He’s a spooky guy. He comes on, he flashes a smile, and you think ‘Where’s he going to go with this?’.
Q: Is it true you were once in line to be Dr. Who, after Jon Pertwee?
A: I was interviewed. They were looking for a new Doctor, and I went along and the producer there said ‘What can you do?’, I said ‘Well, I’m a very good swimmer, I can’t ride a horse, I was a paratrooper, and I can fight’. And he said ‘Oh no, no fighting’. And I think I lost the job because I said I’d fight, and of course the first thing you see Tom Baker, who got the job, the first thing he did was going Smack! and knocking someone over. I’d have loved to have been Dr. Who.
Q: You’ve done a lot of television. ‘The Wombles’, ‘The Railway Children’…
A: The Wombles would be good in ‘Doctor Who’. A Womble planet.
Q: Have you mentioned that to Russell T. Davies?
A: I’ll ring Russell when I get off the air and say ‘What about the Wombles, then?’.
Q: But you must have had such fun doing such a variety of things.
A: Yeah. Ducking and diving. Don’t stand still, keep moving around.
Q: One of the things that’s so different between ‘Doctor Who’ now and working on it back then is the special effects. Do you stand around going ‘We wouldn’t have done it like that’?
A: I do remember that when we did the film, which was forty-two years ago, I got terrible giggles because one of the Dalek operators – you’re not supposed to know this, there’s a man inside – he had to learn all the lines in order to communicate with the actors, and he was an Australian guy called Bob Jewell, and he’d say ‘You will be exterminated’ (in an Australian accent) and I started wetting myself with laughter. The director, Gordon Fleming – God bless you – got very upset and swore at me.