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Published on October 2nd, 2011 | by Andrew Reynolds

Finale Tribute to the Brig

The Doctor Who Series 6 finale The Wedding of River Song featured a touching tribute to the late Nicholas Courtney in a brief TARDIS-based moment in which the Doctor learns of the sad passing of his legendary companion Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart.

No plot-relevant details are revealed below: simply a section of dialogue from a warm and touching moment in the final episode. Spoiler-phobic? Stop reading now!

In between saving time and himself the Doctor learns of the death of “the Brig”, one of the most popular characters in the show’s history, in a phone call to a nursing home where his former colleague spent his final years.

A nurse tells the Doctor:

“I’m afraid Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart passed away a few months ago. It was very peaceful. Talked a lot about you, if that’s any comfort. Always made us pour an extra brandy in case you came round one of these days.”

The Doctor then takes a moment to compose himself as he contemplates both the end of that magnificent friendship and his own passing.

Speaking of the decision to include the moment Steven Moffat said:

“In a story about the Doctor going to his death, it seemed right and proper to acknowledge one of the greatest losses Doctor Who has endured.”

Although Courtney made his first appearance in Doctor Who in 1965 opposite William Hartnell in the serial The Dalek’s Master Plan – playing space security agent Bret Vyon – it wasn’t until three years later that Courtney began the first of his recurring appearances first as Colonel and then as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

Nicholas Courtney passed away in February of this year following a long illness, aged 81.



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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

4 Responses to Finale Tribute to the Brig

  1. avatar Bob James says:

    That moment got me. Doctor Who is one of the only shows that can celebrate its history rather than lament it. And that scene, the performance of Matt Smith, the way it was placed in the episode, was as perfect as it could be. Again, as I have previously posted, this is Doctor Who honoring its legacy and moving forward. Get it, or watch something else………

  2. avatar gavinio says:

    It’s possibly the moment that I will remember most from the finale. Lovely writing and well played by Matt Smith it was the perfect way for the show to say farewell. Will we see a similar mention for ‘his’ Sarah Jane in the future as well?

  3. avatar Steve Andrew says:

    Very moving moment. Also (and I surely can’t be the only one who thought this) was the wearing of multiple eyepatches in the story an extra fannish tribute to the esteemed Mr Courteney? ;-)

  4. avatar Alex says:

    I couldn’t help but wonder: right after the call, the Doctor looked down at the envelopes. Is it possible one of the blue envelopes was intended for the Brigadier? I also liked the fact (and this was probably more coincidental than intentional) that the scene did not contradict the novels, which had the Brigadier regain his youth around the year 2010(!) and live for another 40 years or so. The nursing home could well have been in the 2050s. I also remember some griping that Courtney didn’t receive a tribute note at the start of the season – well I guess we know why now.

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