Tidy Bag

Bernard Who? on BBC Radio 4

This year, the actor Bernard Cribbins celebrates his 85th birthday and more than 70 years in showbusiness. In this revealing two-part series he talks to his friend and producer Martin Jenkins about his extraordinary career, and a cast of friends share their memories of working with Bernard, including David Tennant, Barbara Windsor, Barry Cryer and the late Richard Briers.

He’s been directed by Hitchcock, starred alongside a galaxy of screen legends including Peter Sellers and Kenneth Williams, is good mates with David Tennant, and has performed with Barbara Windsor wearing nothing but a bikini.

Somehow Bernard Cribbins has earned a special place in the hearts of every generation; whether you’re a fan of the Carry On films or his 1960s chart hits Right Said Fred and Hole In The Ground, grew up watching The Railway Children or listened to him read more than 100 classic tales on Jackanory. And he has continued to wow younger audiences as Wilfred Mott in Doctor Who, and most recently as the storytelling sailor Old Jack in the new BBC children’s television series on CBeebies.

Episode 1: Thursday, 25 April at 11.30am

In the first of two programmes, Bernard looks back at his early career at Oldham Rep, where he started as an actor and assistant stage manager aged 13, on his national service with the parachute regiment in Palestine, and the big break that took him to London’s West End, and from there to the Carry On films.

Barry Cryer, Barbara Windsor, the playwright Ray Cooney and Richard Briers, recorded shortly before his death, share their memories of Bernard the man and the performer, and we hear Bernard’s personal recollections of working with the legendary Peter Sellers, Alfred Hitchcock and Peter Cushing.

Episode 2: Thursday, 2 May at 11.30am

In the second programme, the legendary Beatles producer George Martin recalls working with Bernard on the 1962 chart-toppers Right Said Fred and Hole In The Ground. Bernard reveals the secret to his storytelling magic on Jackanory, which captured the hearts and imaginations of a generation of children - including David Tennant.

We hear how Bernard found the voices for Uncle Bulgaria and Tomsk in The Wombles, and Jenny Agutter, his co-star in The Railway Children, discloses what she believes to be the secret of Bernard’s eternal youth.

David Tennant and the writer Russell T Davies give their insights on working with Bernard on Doctor Who, and the joy of reminding the viewing public what an exceptional actor he is. “He can break your heart with a single line,” says Russell T Davies.

This is Bernard’s own intimate retrospective of his career, told in conversation with his friend for more than 50 years, the acclaimed radio drama producer Martin Jenkins.

Producer: Eve Streeter
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4

Listen to the programme on iPlayer

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