Nicholas Courtney, 1929-2011

It is a tribute to the character and the actor that The Brigadier is such a popular figure in Doctor Who.  He appeared with five of the seven Doctors of the classic series as well as numerous Big Finish dramas and a guest spot on The Sarah-Jane Adventures.  The Brigadier was a man of principle and honor, willing to stand up to The Doctor when necessary or if he felt The Doctor was mistaken.  He is truly one of the few humans to earn the right to question the renegade Time Lord.

Nicholas Courtney’s first appearance in Doctor Who is the story I’m currently reviewing: The Daleks’ Master Plan.  He portrayed Space Security Agent Bret Vyon, a man investigating the death of fellow agent Marc Cory.  Vyon soon allied himself with The Doctor against The Daleks and Mavic Chen, only to be shot by his sister Sarah Kingdom.  Courtney later returned to Doctor Who in the Patrick Troughton story The Web of Fear.  This is his first portrayal of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart, a mere colonel in this story.  With The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria, Lethbridge Stewart fought off an invasion of the Yeti in what many fans have theorized to be the catalyst for the formation of UNIT.  Lethbridge Stewart reappeared the very next year as The Brigadier and helped The Doctor fight off Cybermen invasion, which is one of my favorite stories hands down!

The Brigadier is primarily remembered as the commanding officer of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, or UNIT.  When The Doctor was exiled to Earth, he found a position as UNIT’s scientific advisor and helped The Brigadier protect Earth from alien invasions and other threats.

While many fans would have loved to see The Brigadier appear in the new series, it is not to be.  Nicholas Courtney passed away February 22, 2011, at the age of 81. He will be remembered fondly by many fans both due to the creation of one of the most memorable characters in Doctor Who and due to the fact that he was an upstanding gentleman in his own right.  He will be missed.


3 thoughts on “Nicholas Courtney, 1929-2011

  1. It is sad.

    He was at his best in Season 7. After that they messed up his character and turned him into an idiot who was there to get laughs.

    Nicholas Courtney was a great Doctor Who cast member.

  2. He always gave such good interviews in the documentaries about the original series. He had a lovely voice, too; I think I could have listened to him read the financial section of the newspaper and enjoyed it!

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