Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Brigadier has passed

William Nicholas Stone Courtney, better known to Dr. Who fans as Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart or just The Brigadier, died yesterday after a short illness.

Nicholas Courtney, the son of a British diplomat born in Cairo, Egypt in 1929, made guest appearances on The Avengers and The Champions before becoming a regular on Dr. Who. His first appearance on Dr. Who was in the 1965 serial; The Dalek Master Plan (most of which is missing, though a scene with Mr. Courtney still exists) as Space Security Agent Bret Vyon with William Hartnell. In 1968 he was the director's second choice for the role Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in The Web Of Fear with Patrick Troughton. By The Invasion, again with Patrick Troughton, he had been promoted to Brigadier and formed U.N.I.T. This rank and organization would carry him through the entire run of John Pertwee and several episodes of Tom Baker. By the Peter Davidson era, the Brigadier had resigned from U.N.I.T. and taken a position as a school teacher. His appearance with Colin Baker was a "Children In Need" special called Dimensions In Time which is available on YouTube. Finally he donned his old uniform one last time to appear with Sylvester McCoy in Battlefield. He has also worked on radio plays with Paul McCann, allowing him to have worked with all the Classic Dr. Whos. His final appearance as the Brigadier was on a two-part episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures; Enemy of the Bane.

The interplay between Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and whichever Doctor he was working with, took what could easily have become cardboard characters and breathed life into the roles. The world is a smaller place for the lose of his presence.

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