Tidy Bag

Bernard Cribbins autographs

Bernard Cribbins pointing at my Orinoco T-shirt

“Orinoco! Come here!”, cried Bernard Cribbins fondly, spotting my T-shirt as I reached the front of the queue. “Do you know, you’re one of the only Wombles we’ve had today. Maybe next time…”

I was at Collectormania, a twice-yearly signing event held in Milton Keynes for film and TV fans, on 5 May 2007. It tends to focus on the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and Bernard was signing a lot of autographs for Doctor Who collectors, as he starred in the 1966 film Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

I was disappointed to find that there were no Wombles photographs available for signing (an 8"x10" promo photo was included in the £15 autograph charge, though you could bring your own items to be signed instead).

So, passing up some rather bizarre shots from Carry On films, I chose a straightforward posed picture, which the lady selling the tickets explained was from Jackanory - Bernard presented a record 111 episodes over the years.

He asked my name and we chatted briefly while he signed his autograph. Then I asked if I could have my picture taken with him, and he was happy to oblige…

“Now I’m going to point at your bosoms, but I’m not really. I’m pointing at Orinoco!”

Five years later…

Bernard Cribbins signing his autograph in 2012

When Bernard Cribbins was announced as one of the guests at London Film & Comic Con, on 8 July 2012, I couldn’t pass up the chance to meet him again.

“I say!”, he exclaimed. “How dare she bring her own photograph? I mean it’s a disgrace!”

Again there were no Wombles-related promo photos on offer, but this time I’d come prepared, with a printed copy of my photo from Collectormania. Bernard seemed amused as he scrutinised my picture. No doubt it made a change from signing prints of Wilf Mott, his much-loved character in the recent Doctor Who series with David Tennant.

“When was that taken?”

I explained that it was from Collectormania five years ago in Milton Keynes.

“Five years ago, my lord! Why am I pointing at your bosoms? Very rude.”

“That’s what you said at the time!”, I laughed. So Bernard Cribbins is still obsessed with ‘bosoms’…

As I said thank you and walked away, Bernard added: “He’s a filthy swine!”

Later in the day, I joined the queue for Bernard’s official photoshoot. It was nice to spot a fellow Wombles fan queueing with her young family, armed with Wellington and Madame Cholet toys.

As he was on crutches after a knee operation, Bernard sat on a high stool while fans took turns to stand next to him for their photo.

“Not another one!”, he joked as I approached with my own cuddly toy, asking him, “Would you like to hold Orinoco?” Before I knew it, the photographer had finished and I was moved along.

When I collected my photo later, there he was, pointing again - but this time pointing at the Orinoco toy.

See you again in 2017, Bernard!

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