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William Russell (born William Russell Enoch on 19 November 1924 in Sunderland, England) played Ian Chesterton in Doctor Who from "The Pilot Episode" to The Chase. As one of Susan Foreman's teachers, he was one of the first of the Doctor's companions to appear in the series.
Russell appeared in British films from 1950 onwards, appearing in well-known productions such as The Man Who Never Was (1956) and The Great Escape (1963). He later had a minor role in Superman (1978) as a member of the Kryptonian Council.
After starring in several short-lived TV series, including playing the lead in a 1955 series entitled St. Ives, his big break was the title role in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot on ITV in 1956, the sale of which to the NBC network in the USA made it possible for it to be the first British television series to be shot in colour. Following this, he won a role in Doctor Who as one of the Doctor's companions, science teacher Ian Chesterton, appearing in the bulk of the first two seasons of the programme.
He has subsequently played a number of roles in theatre and on television, perhaps the highest-profile being Disraeli, Testament of Youth and the part of Ted Sullivan, the short-lived second husband of Rita Sullivan in Coronation Street. (Ted already had a terminal illness when he married Rita in 1992, and died peacefully while watching a cricket match.) He also had a small part in an episode of the first series of Blackadder (1983) as a late replacement for Wilfrid Brambell, who had become impatient with delays to his scene and left the set before shooting it.
In the 1980s, the actor began using his birth name, Russell Enoch, professionally (although he continues to be credited as William Russell in Doctor Who-related projects), but reverted to William Russell during the 1990s when he took the role of Ted in Coronation Street. He is sometimes also credited as Enoch Russell.
Russell had originally been intended to reprise his character of Ian for the 1983 story Mawdryn Undead, but scheduling conflicts required the story to be rewritten to instead bring back Nicholas Courtney as another, later regular character, the Brigadier.
In 1999 he returned to the role of Ian Chesterton for the video release of the Doctor Who serial The Crusade, from which two episodes are currently missing. Russell provided linking narration to cover the gaps, in character as an aged Ian reminiscing about the events of the story. Since 2002 he has also provided audio commentaries for various Doctor Who DVD releases, read audio book versions of three early Doctor Who novelisations featuring Ian and provided linking narration for CD releases of the fan-recorded soundtracks of serials with missing episodes in which he appeared. From 2009, Russell has reprised the role of Ian for Big Finish Productions' Companion Chronicles and The Lost Stories. In 2013 he voiced the First Doctor for the anniversary story The Light at the End. 88 years old at the time of recording, he became the oldest actor to play the Doctor in any medium. He has since reprised the role in subsequent First Doctor releases.