William Russell, Original Doctor Who Cast Member, Passes Away At 99

William Russel who featured in the original Doctor Who series aired in the 60s, dies at the tender age of 99.

Published on Jun 05, 2024  |  02:53 PM IST |  21.3K
Russell T. Davis and William Russell (CC: Instagram and IMDb)
Russell T. Davis and William Russell (CC: Instagram and IMDb)

William Russell has served in the industry for many decades. The marvelous career trajectory that he left behind will always be remembered by generations. 

He appeared in the original Doctor Who series which aired in 1963. The actor has appeared in many notable movies including One Good Turn, Above Us The Waves, and Death Watch. Read ahead to know about him.

William Russell's work on Doctor Who

The legendary actor passed away on June 3, 2024, as per The Guardian. He was famously known for portraying Ian Chesterton, a school teacher in the famous Doctor Who series.

He has been present since the series' season one, appearing in its first episode titled, An Unearthly Child. He shared the screen space alongside the First Doctor, William Harnell, and his companion Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford. Jacqueline Hill also appeared in the series as teacher Barbara Wright.

After appearing in the two seasons of the hit show, he left the series in 1965. Although he left it, his alliance with the show continued in some way or the other. He narrated the Doctor Who audiobook releases on the lost episodes from the 1960s and appeared in the audio stories, as per Radio Times.

57 years later, he appeared in the series, reprising his role as Ian Chesterton. He appeared as a part of the ‘companion support group’ in Jodie Whittaker's final episode The Power Of Doctor, according to the outlet.


A Guinness World Record was earned by the actor for the longest gap between TV appearances as he featured in the aforementioned episode of the hit series. 

More on William Russell’s death

As far as the cause of the actor's death goes, it is not revealed yet. He has a wife Etheline and children Alfred, Laetitia, Vanessa, and Robert Enoch. Alfred famously appeared in Harry Potter as Dean Thomas.

Doctor Who’s showrunner and head writer, Russell T. Davis took to his Instagram to pay his tribute to the late actor. Davis captioned, “William Russell (1924-2024). What a sad loss, William played the Doctor's very first companion, Ian Chesterton, back in 1963. “

He added, “A schoolteacher, trapped on the Tardis by a wily old Doctor, unable to get home, whisked off to the Stone Age, Skaro, the Crusades, planet of the Zarbi..!”

Actress Nicola Bryant, who played Peri Brown on the show, also posted about the late actor on her Instagram and X handles. 


On her X, she addressed Russell as a wonderful man who had a delightful family who had an extraordinary career and life.

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Credits: Radio Times, Jang.com

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