William Russell, One of Doctor Who’s First Heroes, Has Died

William Russell, One of Doctor Who’s First Heroes, Has Died

British actor William Russell, beloved for his role in the early days of Doctor Who as companion Ian Chesterton, has died, the Guardian reports.

Russell’s career in television already saw him rise to fame in the UK for his role in the 1950s drama series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, but it would be his next major TV role that shot him into the hearts and minds of sci-fi fans across the country: Doctor Who’s Ian Chesterton.

A science teacher at Coal Hill School, Ian discovers alongside his colleague Barbara that one of their students, Susan, lives with her mysterious grandfather in a local junkyard—and inadvertently finds himself, as well as Barbara, pulled into an adventure across Time and Space as the Doctor’s newest travelling companions. Russell played Ian across the first two years of Doctor Who as it shot to British cultural superstardom, before leaving the series in the 1965 serial “The Chase”, which saw Ian and Barbara return to their home time after an adventure with the Daleks.

Ian would be mentioned multiple times in the generations since Russell’s departure, establishing him as a key figure back at Coal Hill School. But Russell himself would make a record-breaking return in the 2022 episode “The Power of the Doctor”, reprising his role on-screen as Ian as a member of a support group of former companions of the Doctor. It made Russell the record breaker for the longest gap between TV appearances by an actor playing the same character.

Russell is survived by his wife, and their son, actor Alfred Enoch, as well as three children from Russell’s first marriage.

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