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b. 29 December 1928, Oldham, Lancashire, England. Cribbins became an actor in his early teens as a member of a local repertory company.
By the time he was in his twenties he was established in London, appearing regularly on the stage. From the late 50s he began appearing in films, making numerous appearances over the following decades. Although usually in supporting roles, his screen presence was such that he was always an impressive asset. From the 60s onwards, he could also be seen on television in many popular shows. Cribbins also had surprising success with novelty records in 1962. Composed by songwriters Ted Dicks and Myles Rudge, ‘The Hole In The Ground’ and ‘Right Said Fred’ were both placed in the UK Top 10, while Trevor Peacock’s ‘Gossip Calypso’ reached number 25. ‘Right Said Fred’ later inspired the name of a camp 90s pop act. Cribbins’ only other release was in 1967 with ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’/‘Oh My Word’.
Cribbins’ first film appearance was an uncredited bit part in The Yangtse Incident (1957), and this was followed by a great many roles among which are Dunkirk (1959), Make Mine A Million (1959), Two Way Stretch (1960), The Mouse On The Moon (1963), Carry On Jack (1963), Carry On Spying (1964), You Must Be Joking! (1965), Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150: A.D. (1966), Casino Royale (1967), The Railway Children (1970), The Water Babies (1978), Carry On Columbus (1992), and Blackball (2003). His television appearances include The Night Of The Big Heat, Interpol Calling (both 1960), several episodes of Comedy Playhouse (1963-66), as a regular storyteller in Jackanory (1965), The Avengers (1968), his own series, Cribbins (1969), narrator of The Wombles (1973), Fawlty Towers (1975), Simon In The Land Of Chalk Drawings (1976), The Plank (1979), Tales Of The Unexpected, the title role in Cuffy (both 1983) and he was narrator of Original Sylvanian Families (1988). In the 90s he appeared regularly in Noel’s House Party (1991) and was also in an individual episodes of UK shows such as Dalziel And Pascoe (1999). In 2003 he appeared as Wally Bannister in the long-running UK sitcom Coronation Street.