Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Nicholas Courtney - 1929-2011

I was sad to learn of the passing of Nicholas Courtney last night, a true Doctor Who great who will always be remembered by the fans of the programme. His character of Brigadier Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was a regular in the series throughout the Jon Pertwee era, from 1970-1974 and made recurring appearances from then on. He was often the stuffy, straight-man to The Doctor and often produced some classic one-liners, with a voice of delivery as smooth as silk. I know it’s a phrase often banded about, but if Nick DID read the phone book - I could sit and listen all day! Nick’s first appearance in Doctor Who, was as Bret Vyon, a character in the William Hartnell serial ‘The Daleks Master Plan’, in 1965.

I was fortunate enough to spend a whole day with him once – assisting him at a signing event in London in 2009. Being a fan, I was a little bit nervous at meeting him, but he was an absolute gentleman, very funny and very spritely for his age! Nothing was too much trouble for him and he greeted everyone warmly and recounted his tales time and time again, without any hint of boredom. I can honestly say he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met – and with me ‘helping’ him – he needed to be very patient! Just reading people’s comments about him and the words ‘nice man’ and ‘a true gentleman’ pop up quite frequently. And that’s exactly what he was.

In latter years, Nick did numerous work on audio – that superb voice booming through my earphones made me smile and laugh, as I knew that I was in for a great listen, as Nick’s voice had a knack of making you listen to what was happening. He reprised The Brig for a couple of Big Finish Audios, played a cat in the first Bernice Summerfield audio adventure and even a hilarious, camp, fashion-obsessed alien in ‘Soldiers of Love’! More recently, he played the role of ‘Lionheart’ in Cosmic Hobo’s ‘The Scarifyers’ series. The series saw him act alongside Terry Molloy, as the pair investigate supernatural goings-on in Edwardian Britian. At times, I rated Lionheart as the character Nick was more suited too – even more so than the Brig! It’s well worth checking out either on CD or on the radio.

On a purely selfish side, it’s even more of a shame that Nick won’t be around for Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary, as he was keen at playing his much-loved character one last time. His last appearance as The Brigadier was in The Sarah Jane Adventures, where he stole every scene he was in. Typical Nicholas Courtney, really!

I think it’s fair to say that Nick had a great innings and a very eventful life, judging by the many tales he told. I hope he knew how much he is loved by Doctor Who fans and how much of his work brought so much pleasure to people’s lives.

Thanks Nick, we’ll never forget you. Sleep well.

1 comment:

  1. Great memories for those who got to meet Nick Courtney! Special memories we can always revisit for those of us who only knew him on screen, as the Brigadier. A legend - there was nobody like him!

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