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 two years he went to work in the repertory at Northampton before moving to London circa 1961. He started in television with roles in the likes of Sword of Honour and Spot the Birdies.
Courtney is best known for his work on the legendary British TV series Doctor Who. Indeed, he is the only actor to work on the series with all eight television Doctors (his appearance with the most recent, Paul McGann, care of an audio adventure). He first appeared in Doctor Who in 1965 in "The Daleks' Masterplan" playing Bret Vyon, a space security operative. Two years later he was cast in "The Web of Fear" initially as Captain Knight, though assumed a larger role when the actor David Langton ("The Mauritius Penny", "November Five" and "The £50,000 Breakfast") dropped out. Fate would have it that the part Courtney inherited from Langton--Colonel Lethbridge Stewart--would go on (promoted to Brigadier) to become a regular, and highly popular, character in the series. Courtney was practically a regular on Doctor Who from 1970-75, and he made sporadic returns as the Brigadier until 1989. Today he is Honorary President of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society and is a regular and entertaining guest at conventions. He most recently returned to the part of the Brigadier in a cameo in the Harry Hill comedy show.
Appearances on stage included The Dame of Sark, Donkey's Years, The Rocky Horror Show and The Mousetrap. On television, Courtney has a long list of credits and fans of vintage television will acknowledge him as a very familiar face. He did a great deal of work for ITC/ATV, appearing in series such as Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Jason King and The Champions. In 1983, Courtney starred in Then Churchill Said to Me, a comedy vehicle for Frankie Howerd set in World War II; however, the show was pulled from the schedules due to the Falklands conflict, and did not première on terrestrial television until 2000. Further television appearances came in the form of Minder, Shelley, Juliet Bravo, All Creatures Great and Small, Sink or Swim. Film work includes To Catch a King (1984), Jenny's War (1985) and the frankly embarrassing Roger Moore-Michael Caine debacle, "Bullseye" (1990).
Nicholas Courtney passed away after a long battle with cancer on February 22nd, 2011.