When Bernard Cribbins passed away in July 2022, Doctor Who fans knew they’d get to see him one last time in the series, after set pictures revealing him shooting a scene with Catherine Tate and David Tennant emerged online. But while there were plans for more, what we saw when that scene broadcast this past weekend is what we’re getting.
Cribbins’ return as Donna Noble’s grandfather Wilf climaxed the second of three 60th anniversary specials, “Wild Blue Yonder,” which aired on the BBC and Disney+ this past weekend. After the 14th Doctor and Donna endured a harrowing adventure, they returned to London to find Wilf waiting for them—a sentimental reunion cut short by Wilf’s warning of a madness that had engulfed the population, setting the stage for the third and final episode of this anniversary trilogy.
It was a sweet scene, rendered all the more poignant by the credits of “Wild Blue Yonder” dedicating the episode to Cribbins. But writing on Instagram after the episode’s broadcast, showrunner Russell T. Davies confirmed that Cribbins will not directly appear in next week’s episode, “The Giggle,” and that the scene—filmed just months before his death, was his final performance before passing away.
“Farewell, old soldier. That’s goodnight and goodbye to our beloved Bernard. Wilf is mentioned in dispatches next week, all safe and sound, don’t worry, but that’s the only scene Bernard was able to film,” Davies confirmed, noting that there had previously been a “little more” written for the actor, but age and declining health lead Cribbins to pull out, shortly before he passed away.
“It wasn’t to be; at 93 years old, the old soldier had given us his best, and stepped away,” Davies’ tribute concluded. “Night, Bernard, and thank you. I love you.”
Stay tuned to io9 for more of our thoughts on “Wild Blue Yonder” later today.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.
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