DoctorDoctor Who Guide

Nicholas Courtney

Last updated 27 July 2014


Nicholas Courtney (1929-2011)
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William Nicholas Stone Courtney

Born: Mon 16th December 1929
Died: Tue 22nd February 2011 (age: 81)

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Born in Egypt, Nicholas Courtney spent his childhood and education in a variety of places - his father serving in the diplomatic service - before entering the Webber Douglas School of Singing and Dramatic Art after completing his National Service in 1950. He then entered rep in 1952 - his first job being actor/ASM in Cromer! - before a move to London brought him to the world of television.
His first appearance in this media was as a Warrant Officer in the 1957 series Escape, followed by playing King Charles II in Looking About and Mark Norman in an episode of No Hiding Place. He was then to appear throughout the 1960s in shows like Callan and Sword of Honour, as well as popular fantasy genre titles like The Saint, The Champions, The Avengers, and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (alongside Master-to-be, Roger Delgado).His first brush with Doctor Who was to be as Space Security Agent Bret Vyon in the First Doctor epic The Daleks' Master Plan. For Doctor Who fans, of course, he will always be remembered as UNIT stalwart Lethbridge-Stewart. Originally slated to play Captain Knight in the Second Doctor adventure The Web Of Fear, he was 'promoted' to the role of Colonel by director Douglas Camfield when original actor David Langton pulled out, and returned a year as a newly promoted Brigadier in The Invasion, a role he was to become associated with for over forty years! Appearing as one of the main characters throughout the Third Doctor's incarnation as the UK head of UNIT, he was then to appear with every other classic series Doctor, both during the television show's original run and through the Big Finish audio adventures. Name-checked a number of times in the revived series of Doctor Who, Sir Alistair was to eventually return in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2008 - the actor being re-united with 70s co-star Elisabeth Sladen.Work continued after his departure from Doctor Who, appearing in shows such as All Creatures Great And Small and Sink or Swim (both alongside Fifth Doctor Peter Davison), Shelley, Yes, Prime Minister and Only Fools and Horses; he also played Lt. Col. Robert Witherton in 1993's Then Churchill Said to Me. More recently, he appeared in popular shows like The Bill, Doctors, and Casualty. In 2008 he played the Archbishop of Canterbury in Incendiary.In 1997, he became the Honorary President of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, a position he was very proud to hold.
There have been two autobiographies on his life, Five Rounds Rapid! in 1998 and Still Getting Away With It in 2005; his memoirs were also released by Big Finish as A Soldier In Time in 2002.He is survived by his wife Karen, his son Philip and daughter Bella.





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