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Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
Also known as: The Brigadier
Race: Human
Home Planet: Earth
Home Era: 20th - 21st century
Appearances: List of Appearances
Actor: Nicholas Courtney

Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (commonly nicknamed The Brigadier or The Brig) was one of the founders of UNIT and commander of its UK operations. From his second incarnation onwards, and notwithstanding some early tension between the two during the start of his third incarnation, the Doctor has long considered the Brigadier one of his most trusted Human allies and closest friends. His long association with the Doctor has caused some to include him in the rosters of the Doctor's companions.





Early life and military career

Lethbridge-Stewart was born in 1930 (NA: Blood Heat, No Future), an only child. He was raised in Simla, India until the age of eight, which he was sent to an English prep school; his mother died after he left for England. (PDA: Island of Death) He attended Holborough, where he first met Teddy Fitzoliver. (BBCR: The Paradise of Death)

The young Alistair suffered a lot of pressure to live up to the military traditions of the Lethbridge-Stewart family. (DWM: The Warkeeper's Crown)

He began his military career around 1953 and attended Sandhurst Military Academy with Major General Rutlidge. (DW: The Web of Fear, Mawdryn Undead) He was noted for having high ambitions even then. (MA: Who Killed Kennedy)

Shortly after the end of the Second World War, a 21-year-old Alastair was assigned to a Royal Navy mission to update British maps of the Greek Islands, and also ended up in Albania in a mission against Stalinist rebels. This was his first encounter with the extra-normal, as he came into contact with the Immortals and went on a quest into the Greek Underworld; his mind would be wiped of these memories. (PDA: Deadly Reunion)

He later joined the Scots Guards and was stationed for a time at Aldgate. (DW: The Green Death)


He lost his virginity to a girl named Vera whilst drunk on the night of his passing out as a fully commissioned second lieutenant. (PDA: Deadly Reunion)

While in Greece, a young Lethbridge-Stewart fell in love with the Immortal Persephone. He went into the Underworld and fought against Hades for her, and they spent two weeks together before she reluctantly wiped his memory. They would meet again in the 1970s, which saw his memory restored. (PDA: Deadly Reunion)

In Sierra Leone, Lethbridge-Stewart met Mariatu, the daughter of a chieftan, who bore a son by him, Mariama. (NA: Transit)

Some time in the 1960s, eleven years before the spider invasion, he had a romantic encounter with Doris on Brighton Beach (DW: Planet of the Spiders); they had a relation of unknown length, which ended peacefully when Lethbridge-Stewart was dispatched overseas. (DWM: The Warkeeper's Crown)

Upon returning to Britain, the Brigadier met and married Fiona. (MA: The Scales of Injustice) Fiona and Alistair had one child together, conceived following the London Event, who they named Kate. (MA: The Scales of Injustice, Downtime).

Formation of UNIT

The then-Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart was the second commander of the British Army forces during the Great Intelligence's assault on London, replacing the deceased Colonel Pemberton. He was the sole survivor of a Robot Yeti assault at Holborn before heading down to the London Underground to take command. Here, for the first time, Lethbridge-Stewart met the strange little man known as the Doctor. Lehtbridge-Stewart showed a quick, decisive manner, and a ready acceptance of events, even believing the story about the TARDIS from the start. (DW: The Web of Fear)

Shortly after the London Event, Lethbridge-Stewart had a meeting with Air Vice-Marshall "Chunky" Gilmore and learned from him of the Shoreditch Incident, in which hostile aliens had visited Earth in 1963, which Gilmore himself had helped to fight off, with the help of the Doctor. He also learned that evidence of alien visits to Earth existed which went back millennia. (MA: Downtime)

The Colonel went to the government and pitched the idea of a permanent military intelligence group with rapid-reaction capabilities, which would investigate alien and other unusual phenomena which might threaten the security of the nation. When this was turned down, he risked his career by petitioning the United Nations to form such a group instead. (MA: Who Killed Kennedy) UNIT was soon formed, and Lethbridge-Stewart found himself appointed head of the United Kingdom branch and elevated to the rank of Brigadier. (DW: The Invasion) This action made him unpopular with many senior-ranking British officers. (MA: Who Killed Kennedy)

The UNIT years

Four years after the Yeti invasion, UNIT was investigating the mysterious activities of electronics industrialist Tobias Vaughn. Vaughn was allied with the Cybermen in one of the earliest of their many attempts to invade and conquer Earth. With the assistance of the Doctor, the Brigadier and his men were able to thwart this invasion attempt. (DW: The Invasion)

When the Doctor was forced to undergo another regeneration and was exiled to 20th century Earth by the Time Lords, the Brigadier took on the new Doctor as UK UNIT's scientific advisor. (DW: Spearhead from Space)

The new Doctor and the Brigadier lacked the easy rapport that they had enjoyed during the Doctor's previous incarnation. Their relationship was further strained after Lethbridge-Stewart set off explosive charges around the Wenley Moor Silurian colony after promising the Doctor that he had no hostile intentions towards them. The Doctor considered this action murder, if not genocide. (DW: Doctor Who and the Silurians)

During a second encounter with the Silurians, the Brigadier's marriage to Fiona began to fail. (MA: The Scales of Injustice)

Fiona and the Brigadier would later divorce and Alistair would find himself estranged from his daughter, Kate.

This relationship lasted through the Doctor's next regeneration and even after the Time Lords' rescinding of the Doctor's exile. (DW: The Three Doctors) The Brigadier relied on the Doctor's scientific and technical expertise to defeat various alien and domestic threats. The Doctor's formal ties with UNIT gradually waned, all the more so in his fourth incarnation, though he did leave with the Brigadier a space-time telegraph which the Brigadier could contact him if needed. (DW: Revenge of the Cybermen) Despite this, he was openly resentful when the Brigadier proceeded to use said device to summon him back to Earth. (DW: Terror of the Zygons)

After UNIT

1970s and 1980s

Lethbridge-Stewart retired from UNIT and the military, taking a post as an A-level maths teacher at Brendon Public School. In 1977, the Brigadier saw and touched hands with his own future self from 1983. The time differential shorted out, causing an energy discharge - the Brigadier fell unconscious and Lethbridge-Stewart spent the next six years in a state of partial amnesia, having forgotten ever having met the Doctor. In 1983 the Brigadier encountered the Doctor, whom he did not recognize, met his past self from 1977 and in so doing completed the original temporal paradox. (DW: Mawdryn Undead)

Later, Brigadier was attending an anniversary reunion of UNIT when, along with the second Doctor, he was captured and transported to the Death Zone on Gallifrey. (DW: The Five Doctors)

In 1989, Lethbridge-Stewart conducted an investigation of the dealings of SenéNet and was captured. He was later rescued by the Doctor, who uncovered and stopped yet another invasion attempt by the Nestene Consciousness. (PDA: Business Unusual)


By the late 1990s, Lethbridge-Stewart married his second wife, Doris, with whom he had that memorable holiday years ago. (DW: Battlefield) The Doctor changed time to a minor extent so that he could attend the wedding, even though originally he had missed it because he had known of it. (DWM: A Romantic Evening)

The Brigadier worked with UNIT again during yet another attempt by the Great Intelligence to conquer Earth, together with two of the Doctor's former companions, Victoria Waterfield and Sarah Jane Smith. He reunited with his estranged daughter, Kate and for the first time met his grandson, Gordon. (MA: Downtime)

The Brigadier would come out of retirement briefly to help UNIT and its new commander, Brigadier Winifred Bambera, deal with an invasion from a parallel universe by the sorceress Morgaine. Once again, he met up with the Doctor, now in his seventh incarnation and together defeated Morgaine. Lethbridge-Stewart distinguished himself during these events, singlehandedly taking on the Destroyer and dispatching him, armed only with a revolver loaded with silver bullets. (DW: Battlefield)

In 1997 the Brigadier collaborated with the Doctor's eighth incarnation and Bernice Summerfield during an interplanetary crisis between the United Kingdom and Mars. At the end of the Martian crisis, Lethbridge-Stewart was promoted to the rank of General, although he still preferred to be called "Brigadier." Later, he was also knighted. (NA: The Dying Days) He would later go on to have a role in Scotland's devolution. (BFA: Minuet in Hell)

In 1999 he enlisted the help of the Fifth Doctor and his companions Tegan and Turlough to stop an invasion of Earth by the Jex. (PDA: The King of Terror)

21st century


During one part of this decade, Lethbridge-Stewart served as an undercover operative for the United Nations; while officially using his experience in devolution to advise the newly-formed state of Malebogia in the USA, he was secretly investigating the use of a medical device that could be used to alter human minds. During this time he encountered the Doctor again. (BFA: Minuet in Hell)

While teaching at Sandhurst Military School, the Brigadier met the Doctor in yet another incarnation. (DWM: The Warkeeper's Crown)

Sir Alistair at home (SJA: Enemy of the Bane)

Lethbridge-Stewart was knighted. He continued his association with UNIT and with Sarah Jane Smith. The Brigadier formally announced the true purpose of UNIT at a press conference without first telling anyone he would do so beforehand. He would end up assisting UNIT and its agent Colonel Emily Chaudhry against their attempted replacements ICIS, first by undermining their reasons for replacing UNIT in front of the media (BFA: The Coup) and eventually with direct military action. (BFA: The Wasting)

Emily Chaudry had secretly traveled with the Doctor. (ST: Incongruous Details)

During the attempted Sontaran invasion of Earth in 2009, Colonel Mace mentioned that Sir Alistair was stranded in Peru (DW: The Poison Sky). Shortly afterwards, Sarah Jane Smith wanted his help to break into the Black Archive a UNIT base which housed artifacts of great danger and power. He did so but was interrupted in his brief with Cal Kilburne. He helped Sarah Jane and Rani Chandra to smuggle themselves into the Archive to get the Tunguska Scroll for the Bane called Mrs Wormwood who claimed she wanted it for honourable purpose. As he escaped with Sarah Jane he was chased by UNIT officers (SJA: Enemy of the Bane). He would've attended the wedding of Sarah Jane, but for some reason, he was back in Peru. (SJA: (The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith).


In 2010, along with Doris, Mike Yates and Benton, he attended the wedding of the Doctor's former companion, Bernice Summerfield to Jason Kane in Cheldon Bonniface. He had learned by this time that he had a terminal illness and had only weeks (at most) to live. As ever, danger and adventure ensued in the Doctor's footsteps and following a series of events, though, he had his youth restored to him and the disease rid from his system. (NA: Happy Endings)

Later, during a boat outing with Doris, Lethbridge-Stewart's boat capsized and Doris was drowned, an event which haunted him for years. In 2012, the Brigadier met the Doctor in Avalon where they got caught up in struggles between that realm's ruler, Queen Mab, and the Unseelie Court. (EDA: The Shadows of Avalon)


With his life extended, Lethbridge-Stewart managed to live on considerably past the normal span for Humans of his time, dying at last sometime in the 2050s. (PDA: The King of Terror)

Alternate Brigadiers

  • The Earth of Inferno is known to have had its own version of the Brigadier, known as the Brigade Leader. Loyal to the fascist leader who governed his version of Britain, the Brigade Leader was the antithesis of the Brigadier. He was shot and killed by his lieutenant Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw while trying to force the Doctor at gunpoint to help him escape his doomed Earth (DW: Inferno).
  • In another reality the Doctor died at Wenley Moor and the Silurians took over Earth in a hostile manner, leaving the Brigadier and the remnants of UNIT to fight for thirty years against the Silurians. The Doctor and his companions arrived in that universe and assisted in a reconciliation between the species. (NA: Blood Heat)
  • In another timeline, the Doctor's exile on Earth occurred in 1997 rather than the earlier part of the 20th century. During this time, Lethbridge-Stewart lived out his retirement running a bar in Hong Kong. He then went off with the Doctor in the TARDIS. (DWU: Sympathy for the Devil).

Other information


As noted above, he was often referred to simply as the Brigadier and on rare occasions as "the Brig." During his second and third incarnations, the Doctor sometimes called him by his surname, while in his third and fourth incarnations, the Doctor at least once addressed him as Alistair.


Behind the Scenes


Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart was originally meant to have appeared only in The Web of Fear as a supporting character. He was therefore the creation of writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, to whom royalties had to paid when the character was subsequently used. Like Nyssa and K-9, he is a rare example of a series regular to whom the BBC does not enjoy sole copyright. Unlike Nyssa, however, the copyright situation is not so favorable to the writers. While Haisman and Lincoln do own the basic character, they own nothing of the copyright to UNIT, which is an almost indivisible part of his essential character. The writing duo's part ownership was acknowledged in SJA: Enemy of the Bane, a Series 2 season finale of The Sarah Jane Adventures.


The Brigadier first appeared onscreen with the Second Doctor. He has since appeared with the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Doctors. In the The Five Doctors, he appeared with Richard Hurndall as the First Doctor (Nicholas Courtney, had however, appeared with the original First Doctor, William Hartnell playing Bret Vyon rather than the Brigadier, and they both appeared in The Three Doctors, with Hartnell's material recorded separately from the other actors) and in the arguably canonical Dimensions in Time with the Sixth Doctor. In audio form he has appeared with the Sixth Doctor in The Spectre of Lanyon Moor and with the Eighth Doctor in Minuet in Hell. He has not (so far) appeared with the Ninth Doctor. The Brigadier has appeared with the Tenth Doctor in The Warkeeper's Crown comic in Doctor Who Magazine though not, to date, in any other form.

See also

Companions of the Third Doctor
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart  • Liz Shaw  • Jo Grant  • Sarah Jane Smith
Other media
Arnold  • Jason  • Crystal  • Zog  • Jeremy Fitzoliver

This article uses material from the "Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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