Nicholas Courtney, ‘Doctor Who’ Brigadier, Has Died at 81

Nicholas Courtney

Sadly, BBC News reports that Doctor Who star Nicholas Courtney, who played Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart over the course of five decades, has died after a short illness. He was 81.

On the long-running sci-fi series, the Brigadier was the head of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT), a military body that protects the Earth from alien threats. Courtney first appeared the character in 1968, alongside Patrick Troughton‘s Second Doctor. He recurred on the series until 1989 but later reprised the role in audio episodes. In December 2008, he made his final TV appearance as the Brigadier in the Doctor Who spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures.

An outpouring of tributes to Courtney have flooded Twitter today. Former Doctor Who Magazine editor Clayton Hickman (@claytonhickman) writes “To those wondering, actor Nicholas Courtney has died. He played the Brigadier in Doctor Who for many years. He was one of life’s good guys.” Edgar Wright (@edgarwright), director of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, tweeted, “Sad to hear that Nicholas Courtney, the Brigadier in many classic Doctor Who episodes passed away. Worked with him once, he was a true gent.”

Here’s Courtney sparring elegantly with Jon Pertwee‘s Third Doctor in the 1970 episode “Inferno.”

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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