February 22, 2011

Nicholas Courtney - A Personal Fan Remembrance

As you may or may not have read, Nicholas Courtney passed away today.

In that regard, rather than a puff piece about what he's done for Doctor Who...a personal story. Just a cute anecdote that - hopefully - speaks volumes.

It's 1983, and I'm attending a Doctor Who convention, which was the closest thing I had to a social life during my teenage years. (Yes, I had friends, but the only person I tended to see during the summer was a girl who lived across the street, and whom I did not get along with. Now, we're much better and actually like each other, but that's another story altogether).

It was a pretty heady experience - seeing Earthshock for the first time in the US, hearing the news about The Five Doctors...but I was there wanting to meet the Brigadier himself. At 15 years old, I thought the character was totally cool - a clipped, straight ahead military guy who had the name "Gordon".

But what to have him sign? Incredibly, I thought of the Mawdryn Undead
hardcover novelization that Peter Davison (he of the sparkling smile and Supergirl t-shirt) signed. But as I was waiting in line, I had a thought that brought shivers to my fifteen-year-old mind:

what if he gets angry because Mr. Davison signed it first?

But first things first - I quickly snapped the photo you see on the right (with a cheap Kodak purchased for a birthday) - proof positive that I would see one of my heroes. Granted, Peter Davison might have been the Doctor, but Nicholas Courtney was my Brigadier.

As I approached, Ian Marter graciously signed my copy of Earthshock - purchased only moments after seeing the Cybermen return in all of their glory.

Of course, any attempt at coolness on my part was blown when I approached Mr. Courtney. I fumbled my Mawdryn Undead hardcover, turning it around...when he simply turned it back, and signed underneath the Davison signature.

"Thanks, Brigadier," I stammered. He simply looked up and grinned.

Flash forward to last year - I am going through some old boxes of materials for my 25th high school reunion. I come across not only the negatives, but also the very books themselves.

When I open the front page, I realize....that Mr. Courtney's signature stood out. Bold and upfront, just like the Brigadier.

Five rounds rapid, indeed. You will be missed.

(Aside to Andy Martello - your Facebook note is correct: I really am that cool, ain't I?)

Mawdryn Undead Target Novelization - autographs

No comments: