The Loss of an Icon: Nicholas Courtney

Louis Trapani's picture

Louis Trapani - Posted on 13 March 2011

Nicholas Courtney

It's been more than a couple weeks now since word first traveled across Twitter of the sad news that we lost Nicholas Courtney. For many we us, we were in disbelief and shock. If you heard the latest episodes of Doctor Who: Podshock or The Sonic Newsdriver, you will know that I was literally on my flight back from attending Gallifrey One 2011 in Los Angeles when word first came to me. After such a 'Doctor Who high' that was Gallifrey One, to have this news come on its heels... well, it's never a good time for news like this, but we can be grateful it was after, not during the convention. I want to thank Correspondent Graeme Sheridan @The2ndDoctor for posting the news to our site (see: R.I.P. The Brigadier, Nicholas Courtney Dies at Age 81). I had meant to follow it up, posting some of my thoughts, but I found it difficult to do. I was even dreading having to record the next episode of The Sonic Newsdriver only because I would have to report it. Though now that has come to pass.

So what can I say that hasn't already been said by everyone else? Unfortunately, as much as Nicholas Courtney has been a staple and an icon on Doctor Who, in all our years of both Doctor Who: Podshock and the Gallifreyan Embassy, I don't believe we had the opportunity do an interview together (long time Gallifreyan Embassy members, please correct me if I am wrong).

It had been many years since he appeared anywhere near our area. In more recent years, I know there were several attempts to bring him over for a convention or an appearance somewhere, but his health wouldn't allow it.

So with that said, there still seemed to be a connection I felt with him and I am sure that is probably true for most long time viewers of Doctor Who. Like many of the companions, through his portrayal of the Brigadier, it provided someone we could recognize and relate to in series. He not only befriended the Doctor, he befriended all of us watching the show.

The Brigadier could be stubborn at times and even rash. He was always one to do what he thought was best for the state and planet even if the Doctor or we, the audience didn't agree with his choices. You couldn't think of UNIT without thinking of the Brig. Of course I am speaking of a fictional character now when speaking of the Brig. His character, like past actors that had played the Doctor which we have lost will live on indefinitely.

Of all those that had spent time and got to know the person who was behind the character have all said how kind and good hearted he was and I am not speaking of what we often hear from others after someone dies, but this was true through all my years following the series. The actor was just as beloved as his character.

I do regret that he was not in the series at all in recent years since it had returned to television. I understand his health didn't really allow it. I do wish though he was in at least a cameo spot. His character was mentioned from time to time. We did get to see him in a 2008 story of The Sarah Jane Adventures (Enemy of the Bane), albeit in a limited sense due to his health.

This isn't meant to be an obituary and I refer you to DWP 239 and TSN 20110307 for further details on Nick Courtney and his passing as well as Graeme's article on our site. While I don't think I have any great insight or offer anything of substance that hasn't already been said in the last couple of weeks, I would still feel remiss if I hadn't at least say that I and I am sure many of us felt that we lost a good friend when we lost Nick Courtney.

Five rounds, rapid in his honour!

Above photograph by and courtesy of Keith Klitses

Louis Trapani

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