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The brigadier 'most loved' by Dr Who fans

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Former Doctor Who Tom Baker led tributes to his friend Nicholas Courtney, known for decades for his role as The Brigadier, who has died at the age of 81.

The actor starred in more than 100 Who episodes as Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart and played opposite five Doctors.

Courtney died on Tuesday evening after a lengthy battle with cancer. He had also suffered a stroke in recent years, which had affected his ability to reprise the role.

Baker - who played opposite him as the fourth incarnation of The Doctor - said yesterday: "We shall miss him terribly."

"Of all the characters in Doctor Who there is no doubt that he was the most loved by the fans for his wonderful portrayal of the rather pompous Brigadier," Baker added.

The actor died in a north London hospice, with his wife Karen at his side.

The Brigadier was a key figure in the Time Lord's adventures during Jon Pertwee's run as The Doctor, but popped up regularly opposite other stars including Baker.

As the chief of UNIT, who first appeared in the late 1960s, he led efforts to protect the earth against attacks.

His last official appearance in the show was in 1989, the year the series was cancelled. It was revived to a new level of popularity in 2005.

Courtney did reprise the role briefly - this time as Sir Alistair - in the 2008 spin-off children's series The Sarah Jane Adventures. But his stroke put paid to further appearances.

The Egypt-born star went to drama school after his national service and went into repertory theatre. In the 1960s he picked up a string of TV roles including appearances in The Saint, The Champions and The Avengers.

His first Doctor Who appearance was as a "space security agent", but he went on to land a further role as a Colonel, later promoted to Brigadier in a story called The Invasion.

Baker said: "He had a marvellous resonant voice which he used brilliantly when it was his turn to spin a yarn.

"And his background was fascinating too: born in Alexandria, Egypt, he was brought up speaking French and Arabic. Later he perfected English and after a few drinks he would speak in Latin tags to great comic effect."

Known for his suave appearance with a well-groomed moustache as The Brigadier, Courtney's association with the series continued when he became honorary president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society from 1997.

GRAPHIC: Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart with Jon Pertwee as Doctor Who in a 1970 episode

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