British actor Nicholas Courtney died last night.
William Nicholas Stone Courtney was born on December 16, 1929 in Cairo, Egypt. The son of a British diplomat, he was educated in Egypt, France and Kenya.
After serving in the British army, Nicholas Courtney entered the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art to begin a career as an actor.
During his long career Nicholas Courtney made appearances in several famous television series such as “The Avengers”, “The Champions”, “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)”, “Minder”, “All Creatures Great and Small”, “Only Fools and Horses”, “Yes, Prime Minister” and many more.
Inevitably, the name of Nicholas Courtney is linked to the famous series “Doctor Who”. He was initially considered for the role of Richard the Lionheart in the adventure “The Crusade” but eventually he appeared in the role of Bret Vyon in the 1965 adventure “The Daleks’ Master Plan”, though his character died during the story.
In 1968 Nicholas Courtney appeared in another “Doctor Who” adventure, this time with the Second Doctor, “The Web of Fear”. It was the debut of Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart, a character who was originally to be played by another actor but gave up the role.
A few months later the adventure “The Invasion” was produced, in which Lethbridge Stewart was promoted to Brigadier General and put in charge of UNIT, the organization at the service of the UN with the goal of defending the Earth from alien invasions.
Nicholas Courtney appeared again in the role of Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart in several Third and Fourth Doctor adventures and occasionally in some of the later Doctors adventures. By coincidence his last appearance in the classic “Doctor Who” series was in the seventh Doctor adventure “Battlefield” with Jean Marsh, who had played another character in “The Daleks’ Master Plan” with Nicholas Courtney.
After the end of the “Doctor Who” classic series Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart has appeared in several audio adventures, in the special “Dimensions in Time” and made his last appearance in 2008 in the spin-off “The Sarah Jane Adventures”.
For decades Nicholas Courtney succeded in giving life to a character who possessed the qualities of the British soldier but also the British humor and, though often at odds with the various Doctors, he was loved very much by the show’s fans.
Unfortunately last year the rumors concerning Nicholas Courtney’s health had already become worrisome though for privacy reasons there were no precise information and the cause of death was not specified either.
With his death we lose not only a great actor but also a person that people who knew him remembers as kind, generous and very funny.