William Russell, 'Doctor Who' Actor, Dead at 99

William Russell

Actor William Russell is dead at 99.

The Doctor Who star—who portrayed teacher Ian Chesterton in the BBC series from 1963 to 1965—died on Monday, June 3, The Guardian reported on June 4. A cause of death was not publicly revealed.

Russell is survived by his wife, Etheline, and their son, Alfred Enoch. (Alfred portrayed Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter film franchise.) Additionally, he is survived by three children from his first marriage, Vanessa, Laetitia and Robert, along with four grandchildren.

Aside from Doctor Who, Russell was known for portraying Ted Sullivan on the ITV series Coronation Street for 47 episodes in 1992. Other notable movies and TV shows include the 1963 film The Great Escape, the TV series Harriet's Back in Town in the early '70s and Superman (1978).

In 2022, Russell snagged the Guinness World Record for the longest gap between TV appearances. He did so by reprising his role as Ian in an episode titled "The Power of the Doctor"—57 years after the character's previous TV appearance.

On X (formerly Twitter), colleagues and fans of the Doctor Who franchise shared tributes honoring the actor. One person wrote, "I'm happy he was able to come back for The Power of the Doctor. I know it meant a lot for the fans; hopefully it meant a lot for him too."

Another X user shared, "Very sad to hear this, one of the last members of the original crew that brought us this wonderful show. Rest in peace legend, you will be missed."

A statement from Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Daviesshared via X, read: "An absolute legend, for Doctor Who and the whole of television. In 1963, William created the template for the Doctor’s companion, and that’s still going strong, 61 years later. He’s adored by fandom, and will never be forgotten.."

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