Sunday, 22 February 2015


Hard to believe that it's been four years since Doctor Who lost one its greatest stars - the Brigadier himself, Nicholas Courtney.

December 16th 1929, William Nicholas Stone Courtney was born in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a British diplomat. Courtney went into acting in the late '50s after eighteen months of National Service as a private. His first television role was in 1957. He first brush with Doctor Who came in 1965 was he played Brett Vyon in the twelve-part serial, The Daleks' Masterplan (although prior to that he was considered for the role of Richard the Lionheart in The Crusade). He returned to Doctor Who in 1968 in the six-part serial The Web of Fear as the intended one-off role of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart of the Scots Guards. He was cast by Douglas 'Dougie' Camfield, the same director who had earlier considered him for the role of Richard the Lionheart. The happenstance that brought him to the role of Lethbridge-Stewart is something that cannot be forgotten, since it led him to him returning the following year as the now-promoted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, commander of the British devision of UNIT in The Invasion

It was a role that would see him returning as a semi-regular cast member for the following six years, right up until 1975s Terror of the Zygons. Neither Courtney nor the Brigadier were ever forgotten, and both returned in 1983 for two appearances alongside Peter Davison's Doctor and reuniting him with both Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee in The Five Doctors. He returned once more to television Doctor Who in 1989 to star alongside Sylvester McCoy in Battelfield. Although the character never returned to Doctor Who, he was never forgotten and made appearances in many short stories, comics and novels over the following years. Courtney even returned to the role in several audio dramas produced by Big Finish. The character has been mentioned several times since Doctor Who returned in 2005, and Courtney even returned as Brigadier Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2008. Ill health prevented any further appearances, and shortly after his death in 2011, the passing of the Brigadier was noted on screen in the episode The Wedding of River Song.

The legacy of the character continues, of course, in the shape of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, now head of UNIT in the current series. She has appeared three times since 2012, and will return later this year in the opening episodes of series nine and later heading her own audio series of adventures for Big Finish.

Although the Brigadier himself is no longer with us, Candy Jar Books are all set to chronicle the history of this legendary character in the Lethbridge-Stewart series of novels, the first of which can be ordered directly from Candy Jar now (any orders now taken will be dispatched almost immediately) and is officially launched on Thursday 26th February (only four days away!) with an event at The Who Shop in London on Saturday 28th (in attendance will be author and range editor Andy Frankham-Allen, licensor Hannah Haisman, Terrance Dicks [the script editor who oversaw most of Nicholas Courtney's appearances during the late '60s and 1970s] and Ralph Watson who played Captain Knight alongside Courtney in The Web of Fear. Also popping by will be other Lethbridge-Stewart authors David A McIntee, Nick Walters and Jonathan Cooper).

Please do enjoy the following video put together by BabelColour, and remember that legend that was, and always will be, Nicholas Courtney.

We salute you, Nick!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2/23/2015

    Courtney went into acting in the EARLY fifties - he went to the Webber School of Drama right after his national service, in 1950, and his first professional role in theatre would have been around 1952.
    BTW, will courtesy copies of the Lethbridge-Stewart books be sent to Nick's family?