Dec 21 2009 By Roger Crow
Cribbins, who turns 81 on December 29, can be seen in two-parter The End Of Time on Christmas Day and New Year's Day on BBC One.
He has spent more than 60 years in showbusiness, working on the Carry On films, The Wombles, Jackanory, The Railway Children and Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy.
IT'S THE END OF AN ERA FOR THE CURRENT DOCTOR WHO. HOW MUCH CAN YOU REVEAL ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS TWO-PARTER?
I honestly, and I mean this sincerely, can't reveal anything because I didn't have the pages. They didn't give me the last three or four pages, because they knew I'm a blabbermouth and I would tell everybody. Nobody, apart from the people involved obviously, got the last pages. It makes life easier for us because otherwise we get people like yourself saying, 'Are you sure? Couldn't you tell us?'.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO PLAY THE DOCTOR'S LATEST GLAMOROUS ASSISTANT?
I think I was far too good-looking for it - and too tall and all those things. But it was great fun, and I was delighted when I was told I would be the companion for these last few episodes. Terrific.
YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN A GREAT TIME LORD. WERE YOU EVER ASKED TO PLAY THE DOCTOR?
Many years ago, when [Jon] Pertwee was leaving, a lot of actors were interviewed with a view to taking over as the next Doctor. I was one of them and went in and saw [director and producer] Barry Letts, but he obviously didn't like what he saw and Tom Baker got the job [laughs]. I think I wasn't tall enough. That was it. I'd have been tripping over that scarf all the time.
WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF WORKING ON THE 1966 MOVIE DALEKS: INVASION EARTH 2150 AD?
I have one memory which is now becoming folklore. The Daleks, as you know, they've got a guy inside shuffling about. The lead Dalek, a guy called Bob Jewell, who was Australian, had the dialogue so we could play the scene - 'You will follow me!' All that stuff. He got to one line and he said [Bernard adopts his best Australian accent]: 'You will be exterminated'. And I wet myself! And Peter [Cushing] was off. Gordon Flemyng the director, God bless him, was a Glaswegian, and he was growling. We were slapped on the wrist because we did get the most awful giggles. It was more like Neighbours than the Daleks [laughs].
YOU'VE HAD SO MANY HIGHPOINTS IN YOUR CAREER. WHAT'S YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITE?
The thing I remember with huge affection was doing Guys And Dolls at the National Theatre. I love musicals anyway, and that is one of the better ones. It's got a lovely score. It's got super songs, it's a wonderful book and Richard Eyre's production was one of the best ensemble pieces I've ever been involved with.
I LOVE YOUR SONGS, RIGHT SAID FRED AND HOLE IN THE GROUND.
Hole In The Ground, here's a little story for you. Noel Coward chose it as one of his Desert Island Discs. I've got a piece of tape at home with him on it with Roy Plomley, and he chose it as the only record if he could only have one. Plomley said, 'Why would you choose that?'. He said, 'Well, I could translate it into French as I walked up and down the beach,' which I thought was a great accolade. I never met him. I would have loved to have said hello to him and said: 'It's me, it's me!'
WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING DIRECTED BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK IN FRENZY?
Quite extraordinary really, because there wasn't much discussion. Most of the discussion we had was in his office prior to it. Once you got on the floor, he sat in the chair, people rushed around and he said, 'Right, action!'. And off you went. It got to the end, somebody shouted 'Cut!' and he would check the camera and sound. If he was happy with what they'd said, then it would be printed. That happened on a couple of shots. He didn't even see the shot being completed because he was round the corner or something. But he was in charge of a very good team.
IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY ON DECEMBER 29. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT PLANNED?
I'll just take it easy. See what happens, which is what I usually do.