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Nicholas Courtney

Wednesday, 20 February 2008 14:50

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was brought to life by this actor with a wide range of series on his CV ...


The son of a British diplomat, Nicholas Courtney was born in Egypt and spent his early years in Kenya and France. After his National Service he enrolled at the Webber Douglas Drama School for two years before leaving to work in repertory theatre in Northampton.

His early television work included roles in The Avengers, The Champions and Jason King, as well as the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode The Ghost Who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo, alongside Roger Delgado.

Nicholas Courtney began his long association with Doctor Who in 1965, playing Space Security Agent Bret Vyon, opposite William Hartnell in the twelve-part story The Daleks' Masterplan.

Three years later he reappeared as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart during Patrick Troughton's tenure, helping defeat the Yeti and the Great Intelligence in London's Underground in The Web of Fear.

The following year, battling Cybermen in The Invasion, the character had been promoted and was in charge of UNIT, the military and scientific organisation that would play an integral part in the adventures of Jon Pertwee's third Doctor during the first half of the 1970s.

Playing the Brigadier on and off for 23 years, Nicholas Courtney made his last appearance during Doctor Who's final year in 1989. Appearing alongside every incarnation of the Doctor during the series, bar one, after returning to the role in the spin-off video Downtime, he finally got to work alongside Colin Baker as well as Paul McGann on the Big Finish series of audio adventures.

Outside of Doctor Who, as well as guest-starring in episodes of Minder, Yes, Prime Minister, Only Fools and Horses and The Bill, he played Lieutenant Colonel Robin Witherton in Then Churchill Said to Me and The Maquis in French Fields, the sequel to the sitcom Fresh Fields, starring Anton Rodgers and Julia McKenzie.

On CD he plays King Turnidus, the elephantine, fashion conscious ruler of Voltarabia in Soldiers of Love, the comedy science fiction audio series from MJTV. Honorary President of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, Nicholas Courtney published his autobiography, Five Rounds Rapid, in 1998.


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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