Doctor Who boss Russell T Davies pays tribute as original cast member William Russell dies

ian chesterton in doctor who's the power of the doctor
Dr Who boss's tribute to original star who diedBBC

Doctor Who boss Russell T Davies has paid tribute to original cast member William Russell following the actor's death.

William was part of the first-ever episode of Doctor Who in 1963 as schoolteacher Ian Chesterton, who traveled with The First Doctor (William Hartnell) alongside fellow teacher Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) and their student Susan (Carole Ann Ford).

Multiple media outlets have reported that William passed away earlier this week at the age of 99, drawing tributes from Doctor Who fans all over the world.

There is perhaps no bigger fan of Doctor Who than its current showrunner Russell T Davies, who shared his warm remembrances of William on Instagram on Tuesday (June 4).

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Alongside a photo with the actor, Russell wrote: "A fine, nimble, witty, heartfelt actor who absolutely sold the truth of those early years. Before that, he’d been Sir Lancelot on the BBC; it’s often undersold what a star booking he was for Doctor Who. He later went on to marry Rita Fairclough as Ted Sullivan on Coronation Street.

"In the photo, I bumped into him on a train in 2018! I was star-struck! He spoke with so much pride and joy about his son, Alfred Enoch, who I’d seen in King Lear at the Royal Exchange. Absolutely lovely man. A fine, long life. Well done, sir, well played."

A statement posted on Doctor Who's X account read: "We're sad to report the passing of William Russell, a legend in #DoctorWho history - who played one of the first and original companions to the Doctor, Ian Chesterton."

William's Doctor Who stint lasted from 1963 to 1965, when his character Ian was part of the first-ever episodes featuring the Daleks.

ian chesterton in doctor who's the power of the doctor
William returns as Ian Chesterton in 2022BBC

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He left such an important legacy on the show that he was brought back as Ian for an emotional cameo in the 2022 story 'The Power of the Doctor' as part of a support group for former companions.

Outside the world of Doctor Who, William had roles in legendary films Superman and The Great Escape, and he appeared on TV in Black Adder, Coronation Street and Heartbeat.

In one of his later TV appearances, William cameoed in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time, about the origins of the sci-fi series. Jamie Glover played a younger version of the actor in the TV movie.

William is survived by four children, including Harry Potter star Alfred Enoch.

Doctor Who debuts new episodes at midnight on Saturday, airing on BBC One in the UK and Disney+ elsewhere. Classic episodes of Doctor Who are available on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

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