William Russell (English actor)

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William Russell
William Russell at BAFTA 1998 (cropped).jpg
Russell celebrating the 35th anniversary of Doctor Who, BAFTA London, 1998
William Russell Enoch

(1924-11-19) 19 November 1924 (age 95)
Sunderland, County Durham, England
Other namesRussell Enoch
Years active1940–present
Known forFirst male Doctor Who companion
TelevisionDoctor Who
Spouse(s)Balbina Gutierrez (divorced)
Etheline Margareth Lewis
ChildrenAlfred Enoch (born 1988)

William Russell Enoch (born 19 November 1924)[1] is an English actor. He played the role of companion Ian Chesterton in Doctor Who, from the show's first episode in 1963 until 1965.

He came to national fame (for children, at least) in 1956 when he took the title role in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, a weekly series on British television.

Doctor Who[edit]

In 1963 he was cast in Doctor Who as the Doctor's first male companion, science teacher Ian Chesterton, appearing in most episodes of the first two seasons of the programme.

Russell was one of the four original cast members of Doctor Who, starring opposite William Hartnell as the Doctor, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman and later Maureen O'Brien as Vicki. His first involvement in the series took the form of the untransmitted pilot episode, which was eventually reshot and broadcast as "An Unearthly Child". He eventually departed, alongside Hill, in the penultimate story of the second season, The Chase.

Russell has continued his association with Doctor Who, having lent his voice as a narrator to several of the audiobook releases of the lost 1960s episodes. He appeared in The Game, one of the continuing Doctor Who audio stories produced by Big Finish. He has also recorded readings for some of the CD audio adaptations of Doctor Who story novelisations originally published by Target Books.

In the late 1990s Russell returned to the role of Ian for the VHS release of the story The Crusade, of which the second and fourth episodes are lost. He recorded several in-character scenes to camera, which helped to bridge the gap between the existing episodes.

Russell has also contributed to the Doctor Who DVD range, having participated in several audio commentaries and on-screen interviews since 2002.

In 2013, the BBC produced An Adventure in Space and Time, a docudrama depicting the creation and early days of Doctor Who, as part of the programme's fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Russell appeared as a character in the drama, portrayed by actor Jamie Glover.[2] Russell also had a cameo role in An Adventure in Space and Time playing a BBC Commissionaire (security guard) named Harry.[3]

The same year, Russell portrayed both Ian and the First Doctor in the Big Finish audio play The Light at the End, produced to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who making him the oldest actor ever to portray The Doctor.[4]

Personal life[edit]

On 2 December 1988, Russell and his second wife, Etheline Margareth Lewis,[5] had their first child Alfred Enoch, when he was 64 years old. Alfred is now an actor, known for portraying Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter film series and Wes Gibbins in the ABC legal drama How to Get Away with Murder.



Russell appeared in British films from 1950 onwards, appearing in well-known productions such as They Who Dare (1954), One Good Turn (1955), The Man Who Never Was (1956) and The Great Escape (1963). Later, he had minor roles in Terror (1978), Superman (1978) and Death Watch (1979) with Harvey Keitel and Harry Dean Stanton.

Year Title Role Notes
1952 Gift Horse Crewman As Russell Enoch
1953 Appointment in London RAF Officer Uncredited
Intimate Relations Michael As Enoch Russell
Malta Story Officer in Prison Uncredited
The Saint's Return Keith Merton As Russell Enoch
1954 They Who Dare Lieut. Tom Poole As Russell Enoch
The Gay Dog Leslie Gowland As Russell Enoch
1955 One Good Turn Alec Bigley
Above Us the Waves Ramsey
1956 The Man Who Never Was Joe
1957 The Big Chance Bill Anderson
1958 The Adventures of Hal 5 The Vicar
1962 The Share Out Mike Stafford
1963 Return to Sender Mike Cochrane
The Great Escape Sorren
1978 Terror Lord Garrick
Superman 8th Elder
1980 Death Watch Dr Mason As William Russel
1981 Mark Gertler: Fragments of a Biography Roger Fry
1989 The Kill-Off Rags
1990 Deadly Manor Alfred
1998 Mob Queen Swede Carlson


His big break was the title role in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot on ITV in 1956. Russell has acted in many plays and TV series including Disraeli, Testament of Youth and the part of Ted Sullivan, the short-lived second husband of Rita Sullivan in Coronation Street. He also had a small part in an episode of The Black Adder, as a late replacement for Wilfrid Brambell, who had become impatient with delays to his scene and left the set before shooting it, and appeared as the Duke of Gloucester in the Robin of Sherwood episode "The Pretender". Other roles include Lanscombe in an episode of the 2005 series of Agatha Christie's Poirot ("After the Funeral").

Year Title Role Notes
1955, 1960 St. Ives St. Ives 6 episodes
1956 Theatre Royal Boy Episode: "The Assassin"
Assignment Foreign Legion Gerry Brooke Episode: "The Ghost"
The Adventures of Aggie Ted Jordan Episode: "Hypertension"
1956–1957 The Adventures of Sir Lancelot Sir Lancelot du lac / Sir Blaint 30 episodes
1957 Nicholas Nickleby Nicholas Nickleby 10 episodes
Sword of Freedom Count Rene D'Albert Episode: "The Strange Intruder"
1959 Armchair Theatre Episode: "The Girl on the Beach"
Tales From Dickens David Copperfield 3 episodes
1960 BBC Sunday-Night Play Col. Friedrich Eilers
Charles Hemington
Oliver Farrant
John Freeman
Summer Theatre: The Devil's General
Twentieth Century Theatre: The Elder Statesman
Twentieth Century Theatre: I Have Been Here Before
Twentieth Century Theatre: The Fanatics
1961 Hamlet (TV Serial) Hamlet 5 episodes
Triton Captain Belwether
1962–1963 The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre Mike Stafford / Mike Cochrane 2 episodes
1963 Drama 61-67 Mick Lambert Episode: "Drama 63: Somebody's Dying"
Jane Eyre St. John Rivers 2 episodes
Suspense John Richards Episode: "The Patch Card"
1963–1965 Doctor Who Ian Chesterton 77 episodes
1966 Breaking Point Martin Kennedy 5 episodes
1966–1967 This Man Craig Peter Rogers / Peter Woodburn / Avis 3 episodes
1967 Dr. Finlay's Casebook Neville Episode: "Who Made You?"
1969 Detective Bill Cartwright Episode: "And So to Murder"
Parkin's Patch Wilkins Episode: "No Friendship For Coppers"
1972 Buggins' Ermine Frank
1972–1973 Harriet's Back in Town Tom Preston 90 episodes
1972–1981 ITV Playhouse Daddy / Dr. Crane / Frank 3 episodes
1974 Justice Dr. Victor Ashworth Episode: "Point of Death"
Father Brown Reverend Wilfred Bohun Episode: "The Hammer of God"
Whodunnit? Captain Alexander Anderson Episode: "A Piece of Cake: Christmas Special"
1975 The Hanged Man Peter Kroger Episode: "Knave of Coins"
The Main Chance Arnold Galbraith Episode: "We're the Bosses Now"
Against The Crowd Arthur Penwarren Episode: "Bread and Circuses"
The Doll Julian Osborne Episode: "#1.2"
Three Men in a Boat Doctor TV Movie
1975–1977 Crown Court Edward Birkland /Robert Aldrich 2 episodes
1977 Van der Valk Kees Rokin Accidental
1978 BBC2 Play of the Week Lord Folkstone
Fearless Frank
Disraeli Wyndham Lewis 2 episodes
Parables Peter Vernon Episode: "A Gental Rain"
Strangers Bamford Harker Episode: "Accidental Death"
1979 Testament of Youth Marriott Episode: "Buxton 1913"
Shoestring David Carn Private Ear
Spearhead Mr. Dickson B.F.S Episode: "Repercussions"
1980 Mackenzie Francis Hammond 2 episodes
Armchair Thriller Senior Officer Episode: "Dead Man's Kit: Part 1"
Play for Today Don Episode: "Instant Enlightenment Including V.A.T."
The Professionals Charles Holly Episode: "Involvement"
1983 The Black Adder The Duke of Winchester Episode: "The Archbishop"
1986 Robin of Sherwood The Duke of Gloucester Episode: "The Pretender"
1988 The Four Minute Mile AAA Official
1990 Boon John Loseley Episode: "Tales from the River Bank"
1992 Coronation Street Ted Sullivan 46 episodes
1995 The Affair Dr. Hastings TV Film
Casualty Mo Meredrew Episode: "Halfway House"
1997 Great Performances Henry V (at Shakespeare's Globe)
2000 Heartbeat Gabriel Firth Episode: "Gabriel's Last Stand"
2005 Agatha Christie: Poirot Lanscombe Episode: "After the Funeral"
2013 An Adventure in Space and Time Harry - Security Guard



Russell has played a number of roles in theatre with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and in the opening season of the Globe Theatre. In the 1980s, while a member of the Actors' Touring Company, he used the stage name Russell Enoch; on leaving the company he reverted to the name William Russell.


  1. ^ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916-2005.; at ancestry.com
  2. ^ Foster, Chuck (8 February 2013). "An Adventure in Space and Time: Jamie Glover to play William Russell". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  3. ^ Foster, Chuck (9 February 2013). "An Adventure in Space and Time: William Russell". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  4. ^ "An Interview with William Russell". Radio Times.
  5. ^ "What Harry Potter's Alfred Enoch got up to next". Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  6. ^ "William Russell". IMDb. Retrieved 4 December 2017.

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