Saturday, 22 February 2014

Remembering Nicholas Courtney (16 December 1929 – 22 February 2011)

Today, 22nd February 2014 is the third anniversary of the death of Nicholas Courtney who passed away in 2011. Courtney is best remembered for his role as Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in Doctor Who as head of U.N.I.T. (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce now known as UNified Intelligence Taskforce) 

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William Nicholas Stone Courtney (16 December 1929 – 22 February 2011). Courtney was born in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a British diplomat, and was educated in France, Kenya and Egypt. On his mother's side Courtney was descended from the New Zealand Politician John Cuff. He did his national service in the British Army, leaving after 18 months as a private, not wanting to pursue a military career. He next joined the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, and after two years began doing repertory theatre in Northampton. From there he moved to London in 1961.

 According to his official Web site, he died following a long illnes at the age of 81.

His first television work was in the 1957 series Escape. Prior to Doctor Who, Courtney made guest appearances in several cult television series, including The Avengers (1962, 1967), The Champions (1968) and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969) and as a racing driver in Riviera Police (1965).

BretvyonDirector Douglas Camfield originally considered Courtney for the role of Richard the Lionheart in The Crusade (1965), a role that ultimately went to Julian Glover. Though Camfield made sure to keep Courtney in mind for future casting. Courtney would make his first appearance in the series, when Camfield cast him in the 1965 serial The Daleks' Master Plan, where he played Space Security Agent Bret Vyon opposite William Hartnell as the Doctor.


-00005We first met the Brig when he was a mere Colonel during Patrick Troughton's tenure as the Second Doctor (1966-1969) in The Web Of Fear

Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart was the second commander of the British Army forces opposing the Great Intelligence's assault on London. He replaced the deceased Colonel Pemberton. He was the sole survivor of a Robot Yeti assault at Holborn before heading down to the London Underground to take command. It was at this time that Lethbridge-Stewart first met the Doctor, in his second incarnation. Lethbridge-Stewart showed a quick, decisive manner and a ready acceptance of events, even believing the story about the TARDIS from the start.

Courtney became a fan favourite  during Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor era (1970 -1974), when he starred in 101 episodes, and by now, he had been promoted to Brigadier.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Technology/Pix/pictures/2011/2/23/1298470856104/Nicholas-Courtney-007.jpgHaving found the Doctor's help to have been invaluable, the Brigadier set out to recruit a full-time scientific advisor to UNIT. He approached Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, who was initially skeptical of both the offer and the idea of aliens. During this time, the Brig met the Doctor again, this time a patient in the local hospital. The Doctor had a forced regeneration thrust upon him by the Time Lords and exiled to 20th century Earth. The Brigadier took on the new Doctor as UNIT's scientific advisor, with Liz Shaw as his assistant (Spearhead From Space).

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1fLl2IiheSs/TWbzywPXUQI/AAAAAAAAAFQ/vZ0SKLh8Los/s1600/DW5H.jpg Following his retirement from U.N.I.T, he took on the post as an A-level maths teacher at Brendon Public School. In 1977, the Brigadier saw and touched hands with his own future self from 1983. The time differential shorted out, causing an energy discharge. The Brigadier fell unconscious and spent the next six years in a state of partial amnesia, having forgotten ever meeting the Doctor. In 1983, when his pupils included the humanoid alien Vislor Turlough, the Brigadier encountered the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison), whom he did not recognise, and met his past self from 1977. Thus completed the temporal paradox. (Mawdryn Undead).

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/43/Battlefield_(Doctor_Who).jpgDuring the 1990s, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewert chose to  come out of retirement, albet briefly; to assist  Brigadier Winifred Bambera and UNIT battle an invasion from a parallel universe led by the sorceress Morgaine. Once again, he met the Doctor, now in his seventh incarnation (Sylvester McCoy). Together they defeated Morgaine. Lethbridge-Stewart distinguished himself during these events, singlehandedly taking on the Destroyer and dispatching him, armed only with a revolver loaded with silver bullets. (Battlefield)

 Lethbridge-Stewart died sometime before 2020.

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