He was a stalwart of the classic series, appearing on-and-off between 1968 and 1989 as the Brigadier, but Doctor Who actor Nicholas Courtney never appeared opposite a new series Doctor before he passed away in 2011.
Courtney last played his beloved character Lethbridge Stewart in an episode of Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2008 and plans were underway for a return appearance on that show which would see him meet David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor – marking the Doctor’s first on-screen reunion with the Brigadier in two decades.
However, Courtney was ultimately too ill to take part in filming for the story ‘The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith’ – and Doctor Who fans aren’t alone in regretting that this historic meeting between Ten and the Brig never came to pass.
Speaking alongside Matt Smith and Jodie Whittaker in a new interview to promote Doctor Who’s arrival on streaming platform HBO Max, David Tennant admitted that he is still “very sad” that he never got to share the screen with Courtney.
“I was meant to do a story with him,” Tennant explained. “The very last thing I did in Doctor Who was actually an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures – Sarah Jane was the companion I grew up with, but I’d already worked with her… and Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier was going to be in it too and at the last minute he was too ill to come and be part of it.”
He added: “It was not long before he unfortunately passed away, and I still feel very sad that that never happened.”
Asked which companion characters from other eras they’d have liked their Doctors to interact with, Smith chose Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler, while Whittaker opted for Arthur Darvill’s Rory Williams.
“Rose, because it’s Billie and she’s my best pal,” said Eleventh Doctor actor Smith. “It’d be great to work with Billie, so Rose Tyler for me.”
“I’d say Rory for the same reason,” said Whittaker, the Thirteenth Doctor. “I’ve worked with Darvill and he makes me laugh so much. We know how long the hours and the days are… and the months! So it’s got to be a laugh!”
Smith also had another, slightly more left-field suggestion for a character he’d like to bring back to Doctor Who – Adelaide Brooke, as played by Lindsay Duncan in the 2009 Doctor Who special The Waters of Mars. “I’d bring back Adelaide, because I love Lindsay Duncan,” he said. “I just think she’s the best, so I’d probably bring her back.”
Of course, Adelaide took her own life at the end of The Waters of Mars to set time back on its proper course, after a deranged Tenth Doctor decided to save her and disrupt history, declaring himself the Time Lord Victorious. (Adelaide’s actions were enough to knock some sense back into him, thank goodness.)
Then again, this is a show about time travel, right…?