Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Nicholas Courtney A Personal Remembrance

I first became a real fan of the programme when Tom Baker regenerated into Peter Davison. It seemed to give the whole show a lift, and I eagerly waited to get as many of the BBC Videos as I could.

Back in the Eighties if someone had asked me who was my favourite Doctor I would've said Peter Davison. Not now though, having grown up with the old series and now the new series and carefully weaned on a diet of Doctor Who videos and DVD's, it is the Jon Pertwee era which I have most affection and love for.

Jon is now my favourite Doctor, and his era is one of the finest in the shows history. The Production Team had grounded the show very much in reality by having the Doctor himself grounded on Earth. He was assisted by UNIT, the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, led by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, played by Nicholas Courtney. I loved the family atmosphere of the Brigadier, Captain Mike Yates, Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith and Sergeant Benton. I just can't leave out the Doctor's arch enemy The Master played by Roger Delgado.

We have all come to love Nicholas who played one of the most memorable characters in the programme's long history. He returned three times to Doctor Who since he left in 1975.

I was unable to watch the recently released Planet of the Spiders when I bought it shortly after it hit the shops. I bought it on the day Elisabeth Sladen passed away, but this wasn't the only reason. In the final scene just prior to the regeneration, I realised that all the series stars present were no longer with us. And that hurt. I was unable to watch the story as it was just too painful. I am very fond of all the series stars who appeared during the Jon Pertwee era, and whilst I mourned Lis Sladen very much, I was devastated by the death of Nicholas Courtney some months earlier.

I can remember it quite clearly when signing on to Twitter. One of my friends Ian Redman had tweeted something about how it was sad about Nicholas Courtney. I was unaware and unprepared for what he tweeted me next, that Nicholas had sadly passed away. I was numb, grief stricken and in shock, I couldn't stop crying for hours. It wasn't until later on when my boyfriend showed up that I managed to get any comfort, as I felt so helpless. I had never met him but felt that I knew him from listening to his commentaries on the DVD's, as well as his anecdotes on the various documentaries. Many people reading this will think I overreacted but I couldn't help it, Nicholas was part of an era of the show which was very special to me. I had had the same reaction years earlier in 1996 when the BBC News announced the death of Jon Pertwee.

Nicholas Courtney's contribution to Doctor Who cannot be ignored so lightly. His lovely banter with Jon Pertwee's Doctor was a delight to behold. I have many lovely memories of him in Doctor Who, as I am sure have many of you who are reading this. His characterisation of the Brigade-Leader in Inferno stands out as one of his best performances. It was always a delight to see him come back.

So here's to the Brigadier. The Eleventh Doctor may not have met him on screen but that lovely scene in The Wedding of River Song had me in tears once more. A fitting tribute to a stalwart action hero who battled Axons, Autons and the Master. He looked after the Doctor for many years, but the Doctor never ever forgot him.

Goodbye Nicholas Courtney, sleeping forever with the Lord.

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