February 22nd is a day tainted with sadness for me and many others around the world, as today is the anniversary of the death of a hero of a generation.
As somebody who has a lot of interest in ‘old things’: television shows, music and films from years gone by, a lot of the people I admire are sadly no longer with us. But there is added heartache when somebody we love passes away during our lifetime, or, in particular, during our appreciation of them.
Three years ago today, Nicholas Courtney passed away. He portrayed a character called the Brigadier in my favourite show, Doctor Who. He was a recurring character over the years, given a special sort of life by Courtney’s twinkling performance. But despite the brilliant characterisation of the old Brig, it’s Courtney himself as much as his role in the show that fans still adore and admire.
Always a charming gentlemen, full of hilarious anecdotes, and with time for everybody, Nicholas Courtney truly appreciated Doctor Who, and the people who watched it. Nobody ever had a bad thing to say about him, and for a lot of people, the fact that he is no longer with us is still difficult to accept.
I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Nicholas once, way back in 2005. I didn’t say much, as I was completely starstruck, but he was wonderful. He had a laugh – a broad smile lighting up his features, and he even had time to flirt with my Grandma! It is a day that I shall treasure for the rest of my life.
Television shows that have a big fanbase sort of become like a family. The actors, writers, directors, producers etc, and the fans, all share their love of what they do, helping to bridge the gap between the mortal viewer and the immortal stars. Nobody helped generate such a family atmosphere as much as Nicholas Courtney. His involvement with Doctor Who outside of the main series was legendary, and I know for a fact that he touched a great many hearts with his kindness, generosity, and all-out niceness.
Although he died in 2011, Nicholas Courtney is immortal. The episodes of Doctor Who that he was in will be watched forever, and the many interviews and documentaries he gave and appeared in will be pored-over by fans for generations to come. Decades down the line, brand new fans of Doctor Who will experience the warmth and love of Nicholas Courtney. Even though they will never have the chance to meet him, they’ll still be able to smile, knowing that this brilliant man is a large part of the reason why Doctor Who will be around for a very long time in the future.
To Nicholas Courtney, and Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart,
Splendid fellows, both of them…