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Chap With The Wings

The miserable greyness of today has been made even more miserable by the news that Nicholas Courtney has died.

When you browse his imdb.com profile, it's striking how often he played a military character. Typecasting? Or was he just very, very good at it?

He might have been just one of those actors whose face keeps popping up in TV drama and sitcoms, if it hadn't been for his long-running part in Doctor Who as Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

He first appeared in 1968's The Web of Fear alongside Patrick Troughton. So popular was his character that he made numerous returns, both in the original series and in spin-offs; the IMDB lists 107 episodes of Who alone. He played the Brigadier in The Sarah Jane Adventures as late as 2008. Only a handful of soap opera actors have played the same character for that long.

It was during the Third Doctor's exile on Earth, with the Doctor working alongside UNIT, that the character really came into his own.

The friendship and freqent arguments between the Doc and the Brig were one of the elements of the Third Doctor's reign that made it, for me, so unique, special and great.

There are a lot of Brigadier tributes on YouTube, because he is so well-loved. Here's a UNIT one I liked.


Wonderful clip. Reminds me that the other day I caught a glimpse of a young Jon Pertwee in a shot of a showbiz gathering shown as part of a programme about Tony Hancock.
He moved in high society!
107? That's more than most Doctors!
A class act. RIP.
It's wonderful how unfussed he is by regeneration, after seeing it once.
Any thoughts on suitable memorial viewing? I'm considering Claws of Axos, Battlefield or Inferno...
If I only had a copy, it would be Daemons all the way. As it is, it may have to be The Green Death for his enjoyable disgust at all the hippie nonsense.
My Shortlist was Invasion (first promotion to Brigadier) Inferno (dual role) and Battlefield (last official appearance in Doctor Who)

In the end I choose Invasion
He said once that Jon Pertwee had encouraged him to concentrate on playing authority figures as this would win him more regular work, and he said that this had been successful.
Interesting! Even before Who, though, there are lots of character names preceded by 'Captain' in the list...
True - perhaps he told the story to emphasise the influence of Jon Pertwee on his life. He battled very seriously with depression and anxiety, and I think Pertwee helped.
Oh, poor man - yes, I can imagine that.
The Destoyer: "Is this the best your world can do?"

The Brig: "Probably. I just do the best I can."

"Trap One to Greyhound Leader, good luck sir"

Nicholas Courtney we're eternally gratefull for the fun and great char you brought to Dr Who, R.I.p.
Well said!
I heard this last night and was in a bit of shock at the time. By the time I thought of letting you know i figured you'd have discovred for yourself :(

Tom Baker was one of the last to see him, apparently
I read that - so touching.

Yeah, I figured everyone in the world in space would be contacting you about it too!
He was a remarkable actor. I don't think I've seen any of his work outside of the Dr. Who franchise. But I first became familiar with the Doctor through Pertwee's tenure so, to me, Courtney is every bit as much a part of the show as the Doctor himself. It wouldn't have been the same without him.
Hear, hear!

He was one of those character actors it's fun to spot popping up in minor roles.
Not the Brigadier! Man, I was just talking about him not too long ago, making cracks about everywhere the Doctor went, no matter what incarnation, the British Military were THERE. (Little obsessive about the "sun never setting on the British Empire" were we? XD XD
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news - a sad loss!
I can't believe I didn't hear about this sooner, and I'm sad to have heard about it as well.

As you can probably imagine, knowing me, the Brig was always one of my favourite Dr. Who characters, and I was always hoping that he'd turn up in the new Incarnation (Sarah Jane aside), as UNIT had turned up again too.

I always enjoyed any story with an appearance from the Brigadier, and he always had a great presence on the screen, as well as in the story itself. It's a sad thing to know that he's gone, especially as he gave so much to the franchise, and to the fans, and genuinely seemed to enjoy what he'd done.

RIP Nicholas Courtney, you are well remembered, and thanked for all you've done.
I met up with a Who-fan friend last night, and we agreed everyone had thought the Brig would go on forever.