William Russell

Last updated 08 January 2020

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William Russell
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William Russell Enoch

Born: Wednesday 19th November 1924 (age: 99)


William Russell  is an English actor, best known for his portrayal of Ian Chesterton, one of the original companions of the first Doctor William Hartnell.

Born in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, his big break was the title role in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot on ITV in 1956.

He was cast by producer Verity Lambert as one of the four original cast members of Doctor Who in 1963, starring opposite William Hartnell as the Doctor, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman.

Russell continues his involvement with Doctor Who, having lent his voice as a narrator to several of the audio book releases of the 'lost' 1960s episodes. He has also appeared in The Game, one of the continuing Doctor Who audio stories produced by Big Finish. More recently, Russell has recorded readings of some of the Target Novelisations of Doctor Who episodes, also for CD release.

n the late 1990s Russell returned to the role of Ian for the VHS release of the story The Crusade, of which episodes two and four are currently lost. He recorded several in-character scenes to camera, which helped to bridge the gap between the existing episodes.

Away from Doctor Who, Russell appeared in many well known British films including They Who Dare (1954), The Man Who Never Was (1956) and The Great Escape (1963). He also later had a minor role in Superman: The Movie (1978) and Death Watch with Harvey Keitel and Harry Dean Stanton (1979).

He has played a number of roles in theatre with The Royal Shakespeare Company, The National Theatre and the opening season of The Globe Theatre.

On television he acted in many plays and series including Disraeli, Testament of Youth and the part of Ted Sullivan, the short-lived second husband of Rita Sullivan in Coronation Street. He also had a small part in an episode of the first series of Blackadder (1983), as a late replacement for Wilfrid Brambell, who had become impatient with delays to his scene and left the set before shooting it.

In the 1980s, while being in the Actors Touring Company he used the name of Russell Enoch, professionally. However, when he left the Company he reverted to William Russell.. He continued to act in other roles on stage and television, the last being as the character of Lanscombe in an episode of the 2005 series of Agatha Christie's Poirot ("After the Funeral").

From his first marriage to French actress Balbina Gutierrez, he has three children, Vanessa, Laetitia and Robert, and three grandchildren Elise, Amy and James. Alfred Enoch, his son from his second marriage to Brazilian physician Etheline Margareth Lewis Enoch, plays Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films.

The actor is played by Jamie Glover in the 50th Anniversary drama An Adventure In Space And Time, and also has a cameo in the drama as Harry - Security Guard.

Additional Details

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary - William Russell Interview
William Russell, who starred as Ian Chesteron in the first two seasons of "Doctor Who", talks about how he'd feel about returning to the show for the 50th anniversary, and what William Hartnell would have thought about the show now. Filmed at a Tenth Planet signing in 2012, with Aztecs co-star Ian Cullen.

Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child - BFI Event
Doctor Who alumni, including director Waris Hussein, actors William Russell, Carole Ann Ford and Jeremy Young reflect on their experiences of working on the programme and its enduring popularity.

Credit: Oliver Crocker, BFI