Doctor Who star Jacqueline King has paid tribute to her co-star and on-screen father Bernard Cribbins as he returned to the show in Wild Blue Yonder.


It's the first time in 15 years that Cribbins has returned to Doctor Who, and it was his final role before he died in July 2022 at the age of 93. He played Wilf, grandfather to Catherine Tate's Donna and father to King's character Sylvia.

The final scenes of the second 60th anniversary special showed the Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna (Tate) opening the TARDIS doors and stumbling across Donna's grandfather, Wilf, with the world in chaos, presumably heralding the arrival of Neil Patrick Harris's Toymaker in the next special.

Remembering her beloved co-star, King exclusively told "I was just the most fortunate person in the world to have him as a friend, not just a work colleague.

"We had another memorial for him this year. We were at his funeral last year when he died, and then friends and relations organised a beautiful memorial only a couple of months ago. And it was reiterated that, of course, he brought joy and humour and fun and fabulous acting, but what was emphasised was that he was a fantastic friend, he rang people on their birthdays and was just really, really attentive and sweet and supportive.

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"When Catherine was in a play in the West End, we went together to go and support her. So he was a true gentleman, an adorable man."

Cribbins filmed just the one Doctor Who scene before his death, with a dedication at the end of the episode reading: "In loving memory of Bernard Cribbins, 1928 to 2022."

Sylvia Noble (Jacqueline King) in Doctor Who
Sylvia Noble (Jacqueline King) in Doctor Who BBC Studios 2023/Sally Mais

Cribbins's return to Doctor Who for the 60th anniversary specials was confirmed by David Tennant earlier this year, who said: "I am thrilled to say that – although very sadly he wasn't in those episodes as much as we hoped – he was on set with us and Wilfred lives on.

"Bernard is much missed and much grieved for, but I am so excited that his final screen performance will be [one] I had the great honour of being part of, and you'll see it all on your screens."

He also appeared in behind-the-scenes footage of the read-through, with showrunner Russell T Davies saying: "The whole room sighed when Bernard Cribbins said his first line."


Outside of Doctor Who, Cribbins was known for his appearances in the Carry On films, as well as The Railway Children, and his various roles in children's TV, including voicing The Wombles and being the most-featured celebrity storyteller on BBC series Jackanory.