Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RIP, Nicholas Courtney

The Brigadier has left the building. Doctor Who fans will, of course, know exactly who Nicholas Courtney was, the perfect foil to Jon Pertwee (and later Tom Baker) in the 70s incarnation of Who. Even though I was a later convert to Who (in my defence, I was less than two when Pertwee relinquished the role), I knew pretty quickly who he was. I remember him best from his 80s appearances in 'Mawdryn Undead' (an interesting sidenote to this return can be found in an interview from SFX46 that's been republished online today as a tribute), 'The Five Doctors' and finally 'Battlefield', but have seen him during the Brig's prime in the 70s (I also own the DVD of his first appearance, 1968's 'The Invasion'. EDIT: It wasn't 'The Invasion', but actually 'Web of Fear'. 'The Invasion' was his second appearance. Thanks to those who've pointed this out). I guess it's a measure of his stature that I made the effort to watch his final "official" appearance in The Sarah Jane Adventures (Brigadier aside, I'm afraid I only make the effort when the Doctor is present).

Courtney was a stalwart of the convention circuit, and my friend Joe and I saw him at one of the Ipswich conventions in the middle of last decade. I don't remember much about his official appearance, largely because my overwhelming memory of him is sitting quietly having a pint in the hotel's bar, dealing with fans' requests politely and good naturedly. I'd have loved to go up and say hello, but I become a bit nervous, and my inner self tells me it's important to give celebrities a bit of breathing room. Plus I don't want to come across as an idiot...

So it's RIP to Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart - I wouldn't be surprised to see a reference inserted into the next series of Who, when we learn the Brig dies peacefully in bed, just as Sylvester McCoy (who might have been at the same convention, thinking about it) said he would at the end of 'Battlefield'. It would be the perfect send off, wouldn't it?


Joe Cassels said...

A lovely tribute from one Nick to another. The geek in me feels compelled to point out that the character of Lethbridge Stewart first appeared in The Web of Fear, before he returned in the Invasion, although he was only a Colonel back then, so not officially the Brigadier!

Courteny was wonderful and had so much time to entertain Who fans, even those of us lacking basic social skills. A great actor and a kind man.

Rhian Drinkwater said...

I can't quite believe it yet. Saw him a few times at conventions - only watched Mawdryn Undead a few weeks ago. Doesn't feel right that he'll never show up in Who again with a new Doctor.