Nicholas Courtney

Nicholas Courtney


12/16/1929, Cairo, Egypt



Birth Name

William Nicholas Stone Courtney


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Born in Egypt on 16 December 1929, Nicholas Courtney grew up in Kenya and France, then at the age of eighteen was called up for National Service. Following his eighteen month duty, Courtney joined the Webber Douglas Drama School (alma mater of Patrick Macnee and Gareth Hunt). After…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • In 1984, a stage comedy titled Recall UNIT: The Great Tea-Bag Mystery was performed as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Due to other commitments, Nicholas Courtney was unable to appear as the Brigadier, even though the script had been written for him, but pre-recorded a telephone message from Lethbridge-Stewart which was written into the plot.

    • Nicholas Courtney's first film role was as an uncredited Sergeant in the 1966 schlock horror feature The Bride's of Fu Manchu.

    • Nicholas Courtney's official website is in an homage to the U.N.I.T. call sign of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

    • Nicholas Courtney contracted a form of Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina) during his period of service with the British Armed Forces.

    • In order to add more gravitas the make-up team employed a series of fake moustaches for Nicholas Courtney's role as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, it wasn't until 1983 and The Five Doctors that he grew his own.

    • Nicholas Courtney's favourite poet is Omar Khayyám, he is an adherent to his philosophy especially in regard to popular religion.

    • Nicholas Courtney took on a position as casting director whilst still at the English School in Cairo for a play entitled The Truth about Shakespeare. It was a piece about the birth of the Shakespeare/Bacon controversy. He cast himself as Shakespeare.

    • Nicholas Courtney's first credited television role was in a 1964 episode of the crime drama No Hiding Place.

    • Nicholas Courtney's famous aplomb was tested on the set of the Doctor Who episode Inferno when in the scene where the 'mirror' version of The Brigadier, sans moustache and sporting an eye-patch, spins in his chair to reveal himself he came face to face with the rest of the cast and crew all wearing duplicate eye patches. He completed the scene without a smile.

    • Nicholas Courtney's oddest Doctor Who-related role is arguably that of the voice of Wolsey the Cat in the Big Finish audio production of Oh No it isn't!, one of the Bernice Summerfield stories, when the feline was temporarily given the power of speech.

    • Nicholas Courtney ad-libbed the Brigadier's closing line 'Well, here we go again' regarding The Doctor's regeneration in the final episode of Jon Pertwee's tenure, Planet of the Spiders.

    • Nicholas Courtney's service number in the Royal Army Ordinance Corps was 22091883.

    • Nicholas Courtney won the 1952 Margaret Rutherford Medal at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.

    • Although he played a senior officer in many episodes of Doctor Who, Nicholas Courtney never rose above the rank of private during his period of service in the British Army.

    • Nicholas Courtney is the honorary president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society.

    • Nicholas Courtney's autobiography is entitled Five Rounds Rapid after one of the earlier catchphrases of arguably his most famous role, that of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

  • Quotes

    • Nicholas Courtney: Pat Troughton was leaving and Jon Pertwee was coming in - exiled to Earth by the Time Lords for 'misbehaving in time' - and the BBC asked me to become a regular for a couple of years. Head of Unit. I was over the moon. A bit of security when my first daughter was born.

    • Nicholas Courtney: Looking back over the years I will always think of my time in Northampton [repertory company] as the most enjoyable and important of my career. I was given the chance to play some truly challenging parts and I believe it was during 1959 to 1961 that I really began to develop and expand as an actor.

    • Nicholas Courtney: (About director Douglas Camfield) He was determined to present the Army in an authentic light, he even managed to persuade the powers that be to let him engage a platoon of real squaddies for The Invasion. One day I overheard one of the men asking his real officer whether he should salute me or not, so I must have given a reasonable impression of the real thing.

    • Nicholas Courtney: As I had been killed off in The Dalek's Masterplan I assumed my association with Doctor Who was at an end. Just how wrong can one be?

    • Nicholas Courtney: Bill Hartnell could be irascible at times, but he seemed to take a shine to me. Probably because I come over as being so very English. Which despite the international and cosmopolitan influences on my life, indeed I am.

    • Nicholas Courtney: (About filming Dimensions in Time) I didn't enjoy the helicopter ride since all the windows had been taken out for filming purposes and when the German director said to me "now you look down at Mr Pertwee" I thought to myself, "Oh no I don't, since I suffer from vertigo". Suffice it to say, when the helicopter landed, it was straight to the pub and five pints for me.

    • Nicholas Courtney: I was a Private in the army for 18 months between 1948 and 1950 and while doing my National Service I never learnt how to fire any gun of any sort which may explain why certain directors had to cajole me to mean it when firing at aliens.

  • Can recently be seen in The Sarah Jane Adventures - Season 2 - Episodes 11 and 12 from 2008

    Can recently be seen in The Sarah Jane Adventures - Season 2 - Episodes 11 and 12 from 2008. Quite a bit older but every bit the same excellent actor as the now Sir Alistar Lethbridge Stewart a.k.a. Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart of the infamous Doctor Who series (1970 thru 1976 quite extensively) For sure was in "Robot" seen in 1974-1975)Also Tom Baker's first episode. From what I have read, he may be in a few more episodes coming up in season 3 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. I've run out of words at this time and hope this makes the one hundred word min a mum.moreless
  • Will always be Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

    Courtney was probably one of the best supporting actors in the whole run of the original Doctor Who, portraying a character who's stereotypical by the book ways contrasted with the ways of The Doctor, but despite being very straight, it wasn't hard to like Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, and I guess it was due to Courtney's performance, he played the Brig in a way that although you would sometimes feel anger toward him, you could never hate the character, I was happy to hear that he is returning for "The Sarah Jane Adventures", When U.N.I.T. appeared in Series 1 of the "Doctor Who" revival, I knew the return of the Brig wasn't far behindmoreless