Doctor Who | The respectful hat tip to Bernard Cribbins

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Bernard Cribbins sadly left us last year – but Doctor Who has found space to respectful acknowledge him.

If you’ve not seen The Star Beast and Wild Blue Yonder, there are spoilers here. But very light ones.

This article was originally published at the end of November, and was updated once we’d seen Wild Blue Yonder.

There are inevitable ties to Russell T Davies’ fourth series of Doctor Who in his return to the show, The Star Beast. The new episode – and the new era of Doctor Who – debuted on BBC One at the end of November, and you can read our review of it here.

The fourth series of revived Doctor Who saw David Tennant’s Doctor partnered with Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble, just as we saw again this weekend. But for many, the standout character of that series was Bernard Cribbins’ Wilf. A wonderful character, played by a wonderful actor, who sadly is no longer with us.

Doctor Who has quietly paid tribute to lost stars in the past: look how a tribute to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was written in by Steven Moffat following the passing of actor Nicholas Courtney in 2011.

Now, Russell T Davies has done something to salute the much-missed Bernard Cribbins: in this case, by letting his character live on.

In The Star Beast, we’re reintroduced to Donna Noble and her family, not least her mother, Sylvia (played by Jacqueline King). For fans of the show, the absence of Wilf in the family scenes were keenly felt, and I did wonder what Davies was going to do. I loved what he chose.

That’s because we learn that Wilfred Mott is now 94 years old, and still going, That he’s in a very pleasant nursing home, funded by UNIT. And that he’s very comfortable thank you very much. I love that.

And an update for this article: we got to see the final work of Bernard Cribbins in Doctor Who at the end of Wild Blue Yonder, the second of the three 60th anniversary specials. A little scene that set up the next episode, and put Wilf, one last time, in the spotlight.

Here’s Bernard Cribbins at the script read through for The Star Beast

I’m thrilled that one of my favourite characters in modern Doctor Who is still very much part of the 60th anniversary celebrations that are ongoing. The character and the actor deserve that. And the dedicate to Cribbins at the end of Wild Blue Yonder was a very moving, and entirely wonderful, gesture.

I had the privilege of meeting Bernard Cribbins just once in my life, having grown up loving some of his songs. The man didn’t disappoint, as you’d hope. I salute Doctor Who for continuing to respect and pay tribute to a very special character, and by all accounts, a very special man.

Rest in peace, Bernard. Live on, Wilf.

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