Family of The Wombles creator pays tribute to Bernard Cribbins

The son of the writer who created The Wombles praised Bernard Cribbins for bringing the famous characters to life.

The veteran actor Cribbins, who died at the age of 93, voiced the original television series The Wombles and voiced characters such as the wise old great Uncle Bulgaria, the inventor Tobermory, and the sleep-loving Orinoco, for beloved creatures that were the brainchild of Elizabeth Beresford. .

Beresford published her first Wombles story in 1968, along with an original stop-motion animation series that ran between 1973 and 1975 and was commissioned after the stories were read on Jackanory.


Marcus Robertson (Family Handout/PA)

Marcus Robertson, Beresford’s son, told the PA news agency: “He was always a very funny and wonderful guy, but obviously the Wombles were what, from our point of view… The Wombles were all based on family members.”

“So every character in The Wombles was really just a member of our family.

“And Bernard was extraordinary because his mother kind of explained to him what characters are like in real life, so to speak.

“So, for example, Orinoco was based on me being the fattest, laziest and greediest of them all, I was only 13 or 14 when she first wrote them, not even that, I guess.

“But I don’t think so much about myself, but about my grandfather, because the image of the great uncle of Bulgaria was based on my paternal grandfather.


Veteran actor Bernard Cribbins, voice of The Wombles (PA)

“And he obviously looks a bit like the sage from The Wombles. And Bernard was just brilliant at taking the characters of all of us and just reflecting them in the way he did things, but especially the great Uncle Bulgaria.

“When I watch The Wombles even now, it seems to me that my grandfather is still alive.

“He died 50 years ago, but Bernard just got to the point, the way he interacted with the rest of the Wombles, the rest of the family, and especially the way he talked to me.

“You know young Orinoco, he called him young Womble, but in real life I used to be called young Marcus… but the way he just started, Bernard started this family in a hole… was like our family.”

The Wombles’ official Twitter account paid tribute: “Bernard Cribbins breathed life into the hole, his voice became the soundtrack to our lives. We love him and will miss him. Bernard, you will always be part of our Womble family. It was signed with a heart emoticon and the name Great Uncle Bulgaria.

Composer and conductor Mike Batt, who helped create The Wombles on television and wrote much of their material, recalled Cribbins’ “mischievous” nature and wondered why he was never knighted.

Butt told BBC News: “Too many memories. He was a wonderful guy to just be around. He was great company. He was generous.

“Of course, he was great with children, which says a lot about someone. He was very generous to me. Before we had a hit with The Wombles, we worked together.

“We even recorded a joint record with him, which did not become a hit, but then we recorded The Wombles, and I sang them, and he voiced the show.

“He was quite mischievous and a very funny, fun person, but he took his job very seriously and he was a wonderful actor at all levels and obviously he will be greatly missed by many of his friends and of course the viewers who enjoyed his work. Work.”

Speaking about how seriously Cribbins took his job, Batt added: “He was a great actor. He didn’t just do it because there was nothing else to do. This was his calling. He started it very early, he had a wonderful career, and I’m surprised he wasn’t actually knighted, but that’s it.”


Elizabeth Beresford walks with Uncle Wombles Bulgaria and Alderney in Wimbledon Common (Pennsylvania)

Beresford died at the age of 84 in 2010, but her Wombles Wimbledon Common legacy has endured generations.

Womble’s name came from a mispronunciation of Kate’s daughter when she was a child on a Boxing Day outing, referring to “Wombledon Common”.

At home that same day, Beresford drew up a list of names for the characters, and soon the great uncles of Bulgaria, Tobermory and Orinoco, were world famous.

The Wombles’ motto is “Use good trash” and their passion for recycling is considered by many to be way ahead of its time.

Beresford was awarded an MBE for services to children’s literature in 1998.