|Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart|
|Main aliases:||The Brigadier, The Brig. Also known by his UNIT call-signs 'Greyhound One', 'Greyhound Leader' and 'Greyhound'|
|Affiliated with:||The Doctor, UNIT|
|Place of origin:||Earth|
|First seen in:||The Web of Fear|
|Main actor:||Nicholas Courtney|
General — formerly Brigadier — Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (often called the Brigadier, or sometimes the Brig or Lethbridge-Stewart) was one of the founders of UNIT and commander of its UK operations. The Doctor long considered the Brigadier one of his most trusted human allies and closest friends, encountering him on adventures across nine of his incarnations.
Early life and military career Edit
Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was born in 1930 (PROSE: Blood Heat, No Future) of Scottish descent. (TV: Mawdryn Undead) An only child, he was raised in Simla, India. (PROSE: Island of Death) He was sent to an English prep school. His mother died after he left for England. (PROSE: Island of Death) He was strongly pressured by his namesake grandfather, Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, to join the military. For Christmas 1938, his grandfather gave him a box of toy solders and then asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" (COMIC: The Warkeeper's Crown) He attended Holborough, where he first met Teddy Fitzoliver. (AUDIO: The Paradise of Death)
Young Alistair was pressured to live up to the military traditions of the Lethbridge-Stewart family. (COMIC: The Warkeeper's Crown) He began his military career around 1953 and attended Sandhurst Military Academy with Major General Rutlidge. (TV: The Web of Fear, Mawdryn Undead) He had great ambitions even then. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, twenty-one-year-old Alistair was assigned to a Royal Navy mission to update British maps of the Greek Islands. He ended up in Albania on a mission against Stalinist rebels. This was his first encounter with the extra-normal. He ran into the Immortals and went on a quest into the Greek Underworld; his mind was wiped of these memories. (PROSE: Deadly Reunion)
Lethbridge-Stewart lost his virginity to a girl named Vera whilst drunk on the night of his passing out as a fully commissioned second lieutenant.
In Greece, he fell in love with the immortal Persephone. He entered the Underworld and fought against Hades for her. They spent two weeks together before she reluctantly wiped his memory. They met again in the 1970s, when his memory was restored. (PROSE: Deadly Reunion)
Some time in the 1960s, eleven years before the spider invasion, he had a romantic encounter with Doris on Brighton Beach. (TV: Planet of the Spiders) Their relationship ended when Lethbridge-Stewart was dispatched overseas. (COMIC: The Warkeeper's Crown)
Formation of UNIT EditColonel Lethbridge-Stewart was the second commander of the British Army forces opposing the Great Intelligence's assault on London. He replaced the deceased Colonel Pemberton. He was the sole survivor of a Robot Yeti assault at Holborn before heading down to the London Underground to take command. It was at this time that Lethbridge-Stewart first met the Doctor, in his second incarnation. Lethbridge-Stewart showed a quick, decisive manner and a ready acceptance of events, even believing the story about the TARDIS from the start. (TV: The Web of Fear)
Soon after the London Event, Lethbridge-Stewart met with Air Vice-Marshal "Chunky" Gilmore and learned of the Shoreditch Incident from him. Hostile aliens had visited Earth in 1963. Gilmore himself had helped fight them off with the Seventh Doctor. He also learnt of evidence of alien visits to Earth that went back thousands of years. (PROSE: Downtime)
The Colonel went to the government and pitched the idea of a permanent military intelligence group with rapid-reaction capability to investigate alien and other unusual phenomena that threatened the nation. This was turned down. He risked his career by petitioning the United Nations to form such a group. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy) UNIT was organised and Lethbridge-Stewart was promoted to Brigadier and appointed head of the United Kingdom branch. (TV: The Invasion) This made him unpopular with many senior British officers. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
The UNIT years EditTobias Vaughn. Vaughn was allied with the Cybermen in their attempt to conquer Earth. With the help of the Second Doctor, the Brigadier and his men thwarted them. (TV: The Invasion)
When the Doctor was forced to regenerate into his third incarnation and exiled to 20th century Earth by the Time Lords, the Brigadier took on the new Doctor as UK UNIT's scientific advisor. (TV: Spearhead from Space)
The new Doctor and he lacked the easy rapport they had enjoyed during the Doctor's previous incarnation. Their relationship was further strained when Lethbridge-Stewart set off explosive charges around the Wenley Moor Silurian colony after promising the Doctor he had no hostile intentions towards them. The Doctor considered this murder, if not genocide. (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians)
It was shortly after this incident that the Brigadier answered a call for help from an old friend and colleague Kolonel Heinrich Konrad, UNIT commander at Kriedskind Castle. Discovering that Konrad had authorised and taken part in an experiment with an extract from an alien plant, which caused previous occupants of the Castle to manifest themselves, the Brigadier called the Doctor for assistance. After what happened on Wenley Moor, he was not sure the Doctor would come - but he arrived in time, and set up a jamming device that kept the temporal attackers at bay just long enough for the UNIT troops to get away from the Castle before it was destroyed. (AUDIO: Old Soldiers)
- Fiona and the Brigadier later divorced. When their daughter Kate, was older, she became estranged from both her parents, but contacted her father again when she felt threatened by the students from the New World University(PROSE: Downtime), and from then on they enjoyed a good relationship.
Later, the Brigadier employed Jo Grant as the Doctor's new assistant and promoted Mike Yates to Captain. Immediately after, they were plunged into another Nestene invasion where the Brigadier met the Master for the first time. (TV: Terror of the Autons)
Lethbridge-Stewart oversaw UNIT when it provided security for a World Peace Conference, while the Doctor investigated an unusual machine at Stangmoor Prison. However, both their jobs coincided, as the Master had devised an elaborate plan to disrupt the conference, first through an assassination attempt and then through a hostage situation at the prison. With the Doctor trapped inside, the Brigadier and UNIT infiltrated Stangmoor to retake control and rescue the hostages. However, the Master's allies within the prison hijacked a missile as well. Due to some careful bargaining by the Doctor, the Master was distracted enough for UNIT to destroy the Machine and the missile, although the Master managed to escape. (TV: The Mind of Evil)
When a wave of violence swept across Britain, the Brigadier met Persephone again and his memory was restored. The Brigadier also found himself against Hades and so he and the Doctor had to make an alliance with the Master. (PROSE: Deadly Reunion)
While in talks over an international incident, the Brigadier arranged an investigation about the 'ghost' that delegate Sir Reginald Styles had apparently met at Auderly House before the delegates arrived for the World Peace Conference. After the Doctor drove off in the Brigadier's Land Rover to follow some 22nd century guerilla fighters, the Brigadier took part in the Conference.
The Doctor returned from the 22nd century and helped the Brigadier evacuate the building, as Shura's dalekanium bomb would have killed all the delegates inside, sparking off World War III. (TV: Day of the Daleks)
After the Doctor and Jo left for Peladon, (TV: The Curse of Peladon) the Brigadier and UNIT found themselves attacked by a fascist version of Earth. The Brigadier first employed Ian and Barbara Chesterton and, reluctantly, the Master to help combat the infiltration. (PROSE: The Face of the Enemy) The Brigadier was never aware that an alternate version of him once existed there. (TV: Inferno)
The Doctor's formal ties with UNIT gradually faded when his exile ended (TV: The Three Doctors). During this time the Brig met Sarah Jane Smith. The ties clearly severed in his fourth incarnation, though he left the Brigadier a space-time telegraph to contact him. (TV: Revenge of the Cybermen) Even so, the Doctor was openly resentful when the Brigadier used it to summon him back to Earth. (TV: Terror of the Zygons)
- Position: Head of the British division of UNIT
- Years: Formation - 1976
- Succeeded by: Charles Crichton
After UNIT Edit
Lethbridge-Stewart retired from UNIT and the army. He took a post as an A-level maths teacher at Brendon Public School. In 1977, the Brigadier saw and touched hands with his own future self from 1983. The time differential shorted out, causing an energy discharge. The Brigadier fell unconscious and spent the next six years in a state of partial amnesia, having forgotten ever meeting the Doctor. In 1983, when his pupils included the humanoid alien Vislor Turlough, the Brigadier encountered the Fifth Doctor, whom he did not recognise, and met his past self from 1977. This completed the temporal paradox. (TV: Mawdryn Undead)
At some point after, the Brigadier met both the Second and Fourth Doctors, the Fourth Doctor was involved in a search for the Key to Time. (PROSE: Heart of TARDIS) He willingly abandoned the quest for the Key to Time to make sure the Brigadier was safe.
In 1989, Lethbridge-Stewart conducted an investigation of the dealings of SenéNet and was captured. He was rescued by the Sixth Doctor, who uncovered and stopped yet another invasion attempt by the Nestene Consciousness. (PROSE: Business Unusual)
In 1995, the Brigadier worked with UNIT again during yet another attempt by the Great Intelligence to conquer Earth, together with two of the Doctor's former companions, Victoria Waterfield and Sarah Jane Smith. He reunited with his estranged daughter, Kate, and for the first time, met his grandson, Gordon. At this time, the Brigadier was still working and living at Brendon Public School, and hadn't yet appeared to be married to Doris. However, he was already in the process of retiring from teaching during this incident. (HOMEVID: Downtime / PROSE: Downtime)
By the 1990s, Lethbridge-Stewart had married his second wife, Doris, with whom he had a memorable holiday years before. (TV: Battlefield) The Seventh Doctor changed time slightly so that he could attend the wedding, even though originally he had missed it because he had not known of it. (PROSE: A Romantic Evening)
The Brigadier came out of retirement briefly to help UNIT and its new commander, Brigadier Winifred Bambera, deal with an invasion from a parallel universe by the sorceress Morgaine. Once again, he met the Doctor, now in his seventh incarnation. Together they defeated Morgaine. Lethbridge-Stewart distinguished himself during these events, singlehandedly taking on the Destroyer and dispatching him, armed only with a revolver loaded with silver bullets. (TV: Battlefield)
In 1997, the Brigadier collaborated with the Doctor's eighth incarnation and Bernice Summerfield during an interplanetary crisis between the United Kingdom and Mars. At the end of this crisis, Lethbridge-Stewart was promoted to General, although he still preferred to be called "Brigadier." He was also knighted. (PROSE: The Dying Days) He later had a role in Scotland's devolution. (AUDIO: Minuet in Hell)
At some point in the early years of his retirement, he rescued Susan Foreman from drowning in the lake on which his house with Doris was situated. At the time, the First Doctor and Susan were just beginning to experience humanity and had not yet settled in London in 1963. Nevertheless, due to the fact that he had already attended Lethbridge-Stewart's funeral along with many of his other incarnations, the pre-Totter's Lane version of the Doctor understood whom the Brigadier was. (PROSE: The Gift)
When his former colleague, Captain Palmer, showed him a tape of seemingly invisible imps around a deserted village in April 2001, the Brigadier called the Doctor for assistance, subsequently working with the Sixth Doctor and journalist Claire Aldwych to uncover a conspiracy that stretched back to the Second World War and involved the secret son of Adolf Hitler. Although Claire was killed during a trip to 1945, the Doctor and the Brigadier defeated the Fourth Reich. (PROSE: The Shadow in the Glass)
In 2003, Lethbridge-Stewart served as an undercover operative for the United Nations, while officially using his experience in devolution to advise the newly-formed state of Malebolgia. In the USA, he secretly investigated the use of a medical device that was used to alter human minds. He encountered the Eighth Doctor again. (AUDIO: Minuet in Hell)
Lethbridge-Stewart continued his association with UNIT and with Sarah Jane Smith. He formally announced the true purpose of UNIT at a press conference without first telling anyone he would do so.
He ended up assisting UNIT and its agent, Colonel Emily Chaudhry, against their attempted replacements, ICIS, first by undermining their reasons for replacing UNIT in front of the media (AUDIO: The Coup) and eventually with direct military action. (AUDIO: The Wasting)
During the Sontaran invasion of Earth in 2009, the Tenth Doctor wished that the Brigadier were present. Colonel Mace mentioned that Sir Alistair had been stranded in Peru during a mission, but took no offence to the Doctor wishing for him instead of Mace, saying that Lethbridge-Stewart was a good man. (TV: The Poison Sky) Shortly after returning to England, Sarah Jane sought out his help to break into the Black Archive, a UNIT base which housed artefacts of great danger and power. He did so but was interrupted in his brief with Major Cal Kilburne. He helped Sarah Jane and Rani Chandra smuggle themselves into the Black Archive to get the Tunguska Scroll for the Bane called Mrs Wormwood, who claimed she wanted it for honourable purposes. As he escaped with Sarah Jane he was chased by UNIT officers. He killed Major Kilburne, who was actually a Bane himself. Sir Alistair's wife, referred to only as Lady Lethbridge-Stewart, was out of the house when Major Kilbourne visited. (TV: Enemy of the Bane) He would have attended Sarah Jane's aborted wedding to Peter Dalton, but he was back in Peru at the time. (TV: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith) At some point during his prolonged regeneration, the Tenth Doctor visited the Brigadier. As of late 2010, Lethbridge-Stewart was still on assignment in Peru and could not attend the Eleventh Doctor's staged funeral. (TV: Death of the Doctor)
In 2010, along with Doris, Mike Yates and Benton, he attended the wedding of the Doctor's former companion, Bernice Summerfield, to Jason Kane in Cheldon Bonniface. By this time he knew of his terminal illness. He had only weeks to live. As ever, danger and adventure followed in the Doctor's footsteps and he had his youth restored to him and the disease rid from his system. (PROSE: Happy Endings)
During a boat outing with Doris, Lethbridge-Stewart's boat capsized and Doris was drowned. This haunted him for years. In 2012, the Brigadier met the Doctor's eighth incarnation in Avalon where they got caught up in struggles between that realm's ruler, Queen Mab, and the Unseelie Court. (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon)
Later life Edit
His daughter, Kate, dropped Lethbridge from her name when she joined UNIT in an effort to avoid favouritism. He mentored her until his death. Among the positions he instilled in her was "science leads", something he learned from "an old friend" (presumably the Doctor). She took his teaching to heart and, by the time she was posted as UNIT's Head of Scientific Research, troops were subordinated to her office. (TV: The Power of Three).
Lethbridge-Stewart died sometime before 2020. (TV: The Power of Three) Towards the end of his life, Lethbridge-Stewart was living in a nursing home. He enjoyed telling stories about the Doctor and still hoped to see him one last time; (TV: The Wedding of River Song) his daughter, Kate said that he spoke of the Doctor "even to the end". (TV: The Power of Three) Sir Alistair passed away peacefully in his bed, always asking that the nurses pour an extra brandy in case the Doctor came to visit. A few months after his passing, a nurse informed the Eleventh Doctor via telephone of his recent death. (TV: The Wedding of River Song)
Although the Eleventh Doctor received confirmation of the Brigadier's death, he was aware of the circumstances - or, at least, that the Brigadier was destined to die in bed - as early as his seventh incarnation (TV: Battlefield). However, all incarnations of the Doctor attended his funeral, suggesting the Doctor was aware of this earlier. (PROSE: The Gift)
A man of action, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart preferred to settle problems by fighting rather than talking. This lead to some initial difficultly in his relationship with the Doctor. As time went on however, they became very close friends; indeed, the Brigadier met more of the Doctor's incarnations than any other companion, arguably making him the Doctor's most trusted friend. The fact that all of the Doctor's incarnations went to his funeral (including the First who hadn't even met him yet) further shows how close they were. (PROSE: The Gift) The Brigadier was charming but professional and serious, being unwilling to take nonsense from others although sometimes displaying an acerbic wit of his own. He was frequently exasperated by the Fourth Doctor's rather childish personality, and often argued with his predecessor due to the Third Doctor's preference of solving problems with science rather than weapons.
The Third Doctor once called the Brigadier a "pompous, self-opinionated idiot", although he apologized later. (TV: Inferno) The Brigadier could be ruthless and in one of his earlier adventures with the Doctor he committed an act that the Doctor considered to be murder or even genocide. Furthermore the Brigadier had lied to the Doctor about having no intention of harming the Silurians. At this time however, he had merely been obeying orders rather than genuinely having any malicious intent towards the Silurians. (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians)
The Brigadier was a natural skeptic in his early years and was disbelieving of the TARDIS and the Doctor's regeneration ability but as he grew older and his understanding of the Doctor and the Universe grew, he became less skeptical. Loyal and determined, the Brigadier was dedicated to protecting the earth, but under the Doctor's influence he learned that violence wasn't always the best solution, and became more willing to negotiate with his enemies, although he still wouldn't hesitate to open fire on them if the situation demanded it. He passed this belief onto his daughter, who eventually turned UNIT into a largely non-violent organization. (TV: The Power of Three)
The Brigadier was a natural leader and easily capable of taking charge, as shown by his rank as well as his actions. Even in his later years, he remained a formidable presence although he did possess a more sentimental side. He was willing to sacrifice himself to save the Doctor and even knocked out his Seventh incarnation to protect him while he stood up to the Destroyer saying the words "Get off my world!" (TV: Battlefield). The Brigadier's last wish was to meet the Doctor one last time. Tragically he passed away in his sleep but not before he told many stories of his old friend and asked the nurses to always pour an extra brandy in case he came to visit. (TV: The Wedding of River Song)
Alternate Brigadiers Edit
- A parallel Earth is known to have had its own version of the Brigadier, known as the Brigade Leader. Loyal to the fascist leader who governed his version of Britain, the Brigade Leader was the antithesis of the Brigadier. He was shot and killed by his lieutenant, Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw, while trying to force the Doctor at gunpoint to help him escape his doomed Earth. Unlike Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart lacked both a moustache and his left eye. (TV: Inferno)
- In another timeline, the Brigadier and the Third Doctor died saving humanity from a hostile Silurian faction during the Wenley Moor incident. Humans and Silurians made peace and the fact it continued after their deaths was a tribute to their skill and force of character. (COMIC: Final Genesis)
- In another reality, the Doctor died at Wenley Moor and the Silurians took over Earth in a hostile fashion, leaving the Brigadier and the remnants of UNIT to fight them for thirty years. The Seventh Doctor and his companions arrived in that universe and assisted in a reconciliation between the species. (PROSE: Blood Heat)
- In an alternate timeline in which an alternate Third Doctor had never been UNIT's scientific advisor, an alternate Lethbridge-Stewart had retired from a disgraced UNIT and opened a pub. After reconnecting with the Doctor and joining forces against an alternate Master, Lethbridge-Stewart joined the Doctor as his companion aboard the TARDIS. (NOTDWU: Sympathy for the Devil, Masters of War)
Other information Edit
He was often referred to simply as the Brigadier and on rare occasions as "the Brig." During his second and third incarnations, the Doctor sometimes called him by his surname, while in his third and fourth incarnations, the Doctor at least once addressed him as Alistair. (TV: Planet of the Spiders, Terror of the Zygons) In his fifth incarnation, he at least once addressed him by his full name. (TV: Mawdryn Undead)
Behind the scenes Edit
Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart was originally to appear only in The Web of Fear as a supporting character. He was the creation of writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, to whom royalties had to be paid whenever the character was used. Like Nyssa and K9, he is a rare example of a series regular to whom the BBC does not hold sole copyright. Unlike Nyssa, however, the copyright situation is not so favourable to the writers. While Haisman and Lincoln do own the basic character, they own nothing of the copyright to UNIT, which is an almost indivisible part of his essential character. The writing pair's part ownership was acknowledged in TV: Enemy of the Bane, the Series 2 season finale of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
In televised episodes, the Brigadier appeared and interacted with all of the first seven Doctors — though his encounter with the Sixth Doctor in Dimensions in Time is not counted as part of the Doctor Who universe.
Nevertheless his most continuous period of interaction with the Doctor was during the Time Lord's second, third and fourth incarnations. There were unsurprisingly numerous comic, audio and prose stories which centred on the Brigadier's adventures with those three Doctors.
More unusual were the number of stories in other media which described interactions with other Doctors. A short story once posited he met the First Doctor before the Doctor and Susan settled on Totter's Lane. (PROSE: The Gift) The Sixth Doctor's first encounter with the Brig was described in AUDIO: The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, quite irrespective of Dimensions in Time. Likewise, AUDIO: Minuet in Hell and PROSE: The Dying Days cast him alongside the Eighth Doctor. Meanwhile, COMIC: The Warkeeper's Crown had him as a temporary companion of the Tenth Doctor. The Tenth Doctor also presumably (though not explicitly) visited the Brigadier off-screen during the time of the closing scenes of TV: The End of Time, as the Eleventh Doctor later told Jo in TV: Death of the Doctor that he had visited everyone who ever travelled with him. As of 2013 there have yet to be officially licensed stories in which the Brigadier encounters the Ninth and Eleventh Doctors.
Finally, he made guest appearances in some of the Doctor-less audio stories from Big Finish Productions, including the UNIT audio series and the (mostly Doctor-less) audio serial, The Three Companions.
Nicholas Courtney's long tenure on Doctor Who led to some interesting trivia. Along with Carole Ann Ford, Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton, he was one of only four actors to work with both William Hartnell and Richard Hurndall's interpretations of the First Doctor. Apart from Peter Purves, he was the only regular cast member on Doctor Who to have played two different roles in episodes featuring Hartnell.
The characters of both the Brigadier and Benton appeared in the X-Men comic book Uncanny X-men 218. (DWM 390)