Bernard began his professional career at the age of 14 as a student at the Oldham Repertory Theatre, remaining there for eight years with a break to do his National Service in the Parachute Regiment. From Oldham he went on to work in rep at Manchester, Liverpool and Hornchurch.
His first West End appearance was in 1956 at the Arts Theatre, playing the two Dromios in A Comedy of Errors; this was followed by leading roles in the West End in Harmony Close, The Lady at the Wheel, New Cranks, The Big Tickle and Hook, Line and Sinker. He co-starred in the revue And Another Thing at the Fortune Theatre, and had a hit record with a song from the show, entitled 'Folksong'. He also had top 10 hits with 'Hole in the Ground' and 'Right Said Fred'.
He co-starred in the first productions of Not Now Darling, There Goes the Bride and Run for your Wife, all in the West End. The latter re-opened the Shaftesbury Theatre as the 'Theatre of Comedy'.
Bernard played Nathan Detroit in the National Theatre's production of Guys and Dolls and Moonface Martin in Anything Goes with Elaine Paige at the Prince Edward Theatre. He played Doolittle in My Fair Lady at the Houston Opera House, USA, and Watty Watkins in Gershwin's Lady Be Good at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park and on tour.
He returned to the National Theatre to play Otto, the magician in La Grande Magia by Eduardo de Filippo, directed by Richard Eyre.
Bernard's numerous pantomime roles include Ada the Cook in Dick Whittington at Wimbledon, Leeds and Richmond; Widow Twankey in Aladdin at Richmond; and Hans Anderson in The Snow Queen at Guildford.
Mutley in Blackball, directed by Mel Smith; Mr Perks in The Railway Children, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA award; The Wrong Arm of the Law and Two-Way Stretch with Peter Sellers; The Water Babies with James Mason; Carry On Jack, Carry On Spying and Carry On Columbus; Crooks in Cloisters.
Grandad (regular) in Dr Who; Frank (regular) in Down to Earth for BBC TV; Wally Bannister in Coronation Street for Granada TV; Gavin in Last of the Summer Wine for BBC; Frank Purves in Barbara for Carlton TV; Uncle Henry in an episode of Dalziel & Pascoe for BBC; 'Hands Across the Sea' Playlet in Tonight at 8.30 for the BBC with Joan Collins; When We Are Married for the BBC; The Shillingbury Tinker and The Shillingbury Miracle, from which the series Cuffy developed; title role in Dangerous Davies - The Last Detective; two series of Langley Bottom for Yorkshire TV; High and Dry for Yorkshire TV. He also played Snout in A Midsummer Night's Dream for the BBC.
Bernard's voice is very well known in numerous BBC radio plays, audio books and commercials, and, of course, as all the voices of The Wombles.