Original Doctor Who Companion William Russell Passes Away

Sad news broke yesterday about actor William Russell who passed away at the grand age of 99. The actor was best known to Science Fiction and Fantasy fans as...

Sad news broke yesterday about actor William Russell who passed away at the grand age of 99. The actor was best known to Science Fiction and Fantasy fans as one of the three original Doctor Who companions who accompanied William Hartnell’s First Doctor on the very first adventures in Time and Space in the Tardis.

By the time he was cast as Ian Chesterton on the original Doctor Who series. Russell was already an established name in the British Entertainment industry having become a household name for his role of Lancelot in the 1956 TV series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot. From there on in the actor carved out quite a productive career for himself in Theatre, TV, and Films. In Doctor Who the actor played the dashing young hero role of Ian Chesterton who handled much of the action stuff that William Hartnell wasn’t able to do.

In regards to movies. William Russell appeared in a few classic films such as The Great Escape where he played the role of Sorren. He also popped up as one of the elders at the start of 1978s Superman The Movie and got to reprise that role in the Richard Donner cut of Superman II. 



In his later years, the actor was a regular on the First Doctor Big Finish Audio dramas and got to play Ian Chesterton for a brief scene in the 2022 Doctor Who episode The Power of The Doctor. Before that, he had a nice cameo role as a BBC Security Guard in the Mark Gatiss-penned drama An Adventure in Space and Time which was part of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2013 and told the story about how the first series got made.

I was lucky enough to meet William Russell at a fan-run convention back in 2005 in which I got to act alongside and be directed by him in a drama workshop in which we were playing with a Big Finish script. The idea of the workshop was to show fans how Big Finish Audio plays were made and show off the process that the actors went through when bringing a Big Finish script to life. Also present was Carol Ann Ford who was reprising her role as The Doctor’s granddaughter Susan.

My brief experience with both William Russell and Carol Ann Ford was truly special and lots of fun. William Russell was an absolute gentlemen in the truest sense of the word and left a really good impression on me.

We here at SciFiPulse would like to pass on our sincere condolences to the surviving family and friends of William Russell. A true gent and a fantastically gifted actor.


Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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