British Icon of the Week: 'Doctor Who' and 'The Wombles' Favorite Bernard Cribbins

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Actor, comedian, and singer Bernard Cribbins will celebrate his 92nd birthday on December 29 – many happy returns! As an early birthday present, we're making him our British Icon of the Week and looking back at a remarkable career that stretches out over more than 75 years.

He's worked with everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to David Tennant in his time, but Cribbins is perhaps best known for his sterling contribution to children's TV.

“I keep coming back to children’s television and I love writing it," he said a few years ago. "Obviously you can do stuff in children’s that you can’t do anywhere else. But it’s the audience, actually. In fact it’s the best audience because they’re so uncritical and they’re so critical at the same time. It’s a very, very, sharp audience. If something is dull or boring or wrong, they’ll just wander off."

So, here’s to Bernard Cribbins, and 10 reasons we’ve enjoyed watching him so much over the years.

1. He appeared in the Doctor Who universe not once, but twice.

As well as playing Wilfred Mott, grandfather of Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble (the companion to David Tennant’s Doctor), Cribbins starred in the 1966 spin-off movie Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

2. He wishes he'd played the title role in Doctor Who – and came pretty close to doing so.

Cribbins actually auditioned for the role in the '70s but lost out to fourth Doctor Tom Baker. "The producer talked to me – and a whole queue of actors waiting to be interviewed," Cribbins told the Daily Telegraph this year. "'What can you do?’ he asked. I told him I’d been in the Paras and I could fight. ‘Oh no,’ he replied, ‘the Doctor never fights.’ Tom Baker got the job, and in the first episode he whacked someone!”

3. In the ‘60s, he scored a couple U.K. hit singles with the comic novelty songs “Hole in the Ground” and “Right Said Fred.”

Both were produced by George Martin a.k.a. “the fifth Beatle.” The great Noël Coward picked Cribbins' signature song as one of his favorite records during an appearance on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, saying: "I think the only one I would never get sick of is "Hole in the Ground," because I could translate it into French as I walked up and down on the beach."

4. He made a record number of appearances on beloved U.K. children’s show Jackanory.

The show's format involved an actor or TV personality reading from a children's novel or folk tale, usually while seated in an armchair. Everyone from Prince Charles to Dame Judi Dench read a story on the show which ran from 1965 to 1996, but Cribbins made a record 114 appearances!

5. He also narrated and voiced every character on another beloved children's show: The Wombles.

Based on a series of children's novels by Elisabeth Beresford, the iconic series followed a group of fictional pointy-nosed creatures known as Wombles, who lived on London's Wimbledon Common and took great delight in recycling human rubbish. Frankly, they were ahead of their time.

6. He guest starred in an episode of John Cleese's classic sitcom Fawlty Towers.

Cribbins portrayed an especially fussy (and memorable!) hotel guest in the 1975 episode "The Hotel Inspectors."

7. He also appeared in an Alfred Hitchcock film.

He plays the barman Frederick Forsythe in the Master of Suspense’s 1972 thriller Frenzy, co-starring opposite Alec McCowen and Billie Whitelaw.

8. He starred in The Railway Children, one of the best-loved British children’s movies of all time.

He plays Albert Perks, the station porter, in a movie that’s been voted one of the 100 best in British film history.

9. In 2009, he won a Special Award at the Children's BAFTAs for his outstanding creative contribution to the industry.

He was presented with his trophy by Catherine Tate, and took the opportunity at the awards ceremony to discuss the formidable Doctor Who work schedule and his respect for David Tennant.

10. And thankfully, he has no intention of retiring.

When he collected his OBE from Princess Anne in 2011, he told the BBC: "I love it, I can't stop, why should I? I'm still able to read and write."

Check out a recent appearance from Cribbins on a celebrity edition of popular British gameshow The Chase.

Do you have a favorite Bernard Cribbins role or moment?