Five Rounds Rapid, Nicholas Courtney's autobiography from
a few years ago, was something of a missed opportunity in
my opinion, since it focused on his role as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
in Doctor Who at the expense of the coverage of the
rest of his eventful life. A Soldier in Time redresses
the balance to a considerable degree. The emphasis is still
squarely on his Who career, but that is understandable
and appropriate, since the Brigadier remains his most famous
second of the three CDs in this package is dominated by Courtney's
years as a Who regular, while the first disc concentrates
on his early life. The third disc comprises a balanced view
of the actor's career and private life from the 1980s onwards.
Whereas Five Rounds Rapid continually made spurious
cross-references to Doctor Who, which quickly became
annoying, these memoirs take a more subtle approach in their
attempt to maintain the interest of Who fans with short
attention spans. Nick's recollections on the first CD flash
back and forth between the decades on a limited number of
occasions, each of these linked by a particular train of thought.
this work is not in the same league as Who on Earth is
Tom Baker?, several of Courtney's revelations will still
raise some eyebrows. These include bitter memories of being
bullied at school, an unplanned pregnancy, and the confession
of an extra-marital affair. From the world of Doctor Who,
we hear about Hartnell's alleged racism and learn that, during
the early part of the Third Doctor's era, Courtney and Jon
Pertwee did not exactly get on like a house on fire. Anecdotes
more familiar from the convention circuit are also included
- for example, who hasn't heard the "eye patch" story
Soldier in Time brings the listener bang up to date with
references to the actor's recent work for Big Finish. However,
these are mentioned only fleetingly, so I suspect that Courtney
only refers to them as a courtesy to his audio publisher.
One fact that hasn't been updated, however, is his assertion
that the shelved Frankie Howerd comedy series in which he
appeared, Then Churchill Said to Me, has never been
broadcast on terrestrial TV - in fact, the BBC transmitted
it in 2000.
these memoirs, Courtney sounds as amiable a personality as
ever, combining wry observations with one or two painful memories.
With a total running time in excess of three hours, there's
plenty of listening pleasure to be had before the Brig finishes.