Yesterday was seriously a bummer of a day. After hearing about the unexpected death of comic book creator/writer , Dwayne McDuffie it was only hours later I learned we’d lost another great, Nicholas Courtney the actor who played the Brigadier on Doctor Who for years. A sad day indeed.
Courtney passed away yesterday at the age of 81. First appearing on Doctor Who in 1965 not as a military officer but as Space Agent Bret Vyon in The Dalek’s Master Plan, he would appear on the show regularly from 1970 to 1975 in his most famous role. He played Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart for the first time in 1968. One of the Doctor’s most faithful companions he joined the Doctor on dozens of adventures, mostly during the third Doctor’s banishment on Earth where he worked closely with U.N.I.T. (UNified Intelligence Taskforce, formerly United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) of which the Brigadier was in charge.
The Brigadier handled anything his association with the Doctor threw at him. Aliens, robots even plastic dummies were all handled under pressure with grace and a stiff upper lip. Not one to fluster easily sometimes he would be quick to jump to a violent solution, to the dismay of the Doctor, but Courtney’s brilliant acting of the character allowed him to be beloved by fans.
After the Doctor began hopping galaxies again and spent less time on Earth the Brigadier would still appear in later episodes. He had a particularly prominent role in the big cross-time event, The Five Doctors. Only recently did he reprise his role on The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2008. Of course what’s really disappointing is we’ll never get so see the Brigadier team up with the good Doctor again. Seeing Courtney and Matt Smith together would have been a treat indeed.
After the jump enjoy some clips of classic Brigadier, he was one hell of a chap and one of the best allies the Doctor ever had.