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When Bernard Cribbins nearly joined the 'The Mighty Boosh'

The late great Bernard Cribbins has been an enduring presence on British TV since the 1950s when he made his debut in the 1956 adaptation of David Copperfield. Throughout his long and varied career, he appeared in all manner of films and TV productions, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy, The Railway Children, Doctor Who and The Wombles. On learning of his death, my thoughts immediately turned to his memorable appearance on the anarchical comedy panel show Never Mind The Buzzcocks, a staple of late-night British television in the 2000s and 2010s.

In 2009, following the departure of regular host Simon Amstel, David Tennant was invited to host a special Doctor Who-themed episode. The tenth Doctor was joined by co-stars Catherine Tate and, of course, Bernard Cribbins, who starred as Donna’s affable father Wilfred Mott throughout season four. Cribbins stepped into the world of Doctor Who for the first time in 1964, when he appeared in the film Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., in which he starred as the Doctor’s companion Tom Campbell.

Cribbins, Tate and Tennant joined show regulars Phil Jupitus and Noel Fielding (The Mighty Boosh), as well as jazz musician Jamie Cullum and Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley. It wasn’t long before Bernard’s brand of surreal humour came bumbling to the surface. There’s something brilliantly unexpected about seeing this polite and endearing man suggest that the best way to rid the world of Chris Martin would be to shoot him with a shotgun at close range, to “get a nice spread,” as Cribbins puts it.

Then there’s the moment the other panellists are discussing Doctor Who villain Davros, whom Noel Fielding has a difficult time remembering. “Is he that small one?” the comedian asks Tennant. “With the weird face? Looks like a prawn.” While Fielding and Tennant discuss the extent of Davros’ prawniness, Cribbins seems entirely in his own world. Then out of nowhere, he chips in with: “I like prawns…They’re nice.”

At that moment, Fielding clearly thought he’d met a kindred spirit in Cribbins, remarking: “I can tell there’s gonna be a clash between our styles tonight. I’m gonna look like a right mainstream idiot when you’ve been on.” Later, while the panellists are discussing the origins of a photo of Robbie Williams standing on the wing of a plane, Cribbins pipes up with another left-field quip: “That [photo] was actually taken at 30,000 feet and they drew the ground in afterwards,” he says, sparking laughter amongst the crowd.

“Do you wanna come and write for The Boosh,” Fielding responds, clearly impressed by Cribbins’ absurdism. Make sure you revisit Bernard Cribbins’ hilarious appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks if you haven’t already.