William Russell (English actor)

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William Russell
Russell pictured in Blighty, 1953
William Russell Enoch

(1924-11-19)19 November 1924
Sunderland, County Durham, England
Died3 June 2024(2024-06-03) (aged 99)
Other namesRussell Enoch
Years active1949–2022
Notable workDoctor Who
  • Balbina Gutierrez
    (m. 1953, divorced)
  • Etheline Lewis
    (m. 1984)
Children4, including Alfred Enoch

William Russell Enoch (19 November 1924 – 3 June 2024) was an English actor who performed as both Russell Enoch and William Russell. His career on stage and screen spanned over seven decades and he first achieved prominence in the title role of the television series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1956–1957). In 1963, he was in the original lead cast of BBC1's Doctor Who, playing the role of schoolteacher Ian Chesterton from the show's first episode until 1965.

Russell's film roles include parts in The Man Who Never Was (1956), The Great Escape (1963) and Superman (1978). On television, he appeared as Ted Sullivan in Coronation Street in 1992. In his later years, he continued his association with Doctor Who and returned as Ian for a 2022 cameo in "The Power of the Doctor", 57 years after the character left, which won him a Guinness World Record for the longest gap between TV appearances.

Early life


William Russell Enoch was born on 19 November 1924 in Sunderland, County Durham,[1] to Eva Compston (née Pile) and Alfred James Enoch. He was educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School and Oxford University and became interested in acting at an early age.[2] He was involved in organising entertainment during his national service in the Royal Air Force and then, after university, went into repertory theatre.

Doctor Who

Russell at the 2012 London Film and Comic Con

In 1963, Russell was cast in Doctor Who as science teacher Ian Chesterton, the Doctor's first male companion, appearing in all episodes of the first two seasons of the programme except the last four.

Russell was one of the four original cast members of Doctor Who, starring opposite William Hartnell as the First 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 form in the pilot episode (not transmitted until 1991), which was later reshot and broadcast as the first episode of An Unearthly Child, the programme's first serial. He eventually departed, alongside Hill, in "The Planet of Decision", the final episode of The Chase, which served as the penultimate story of the second season.

It was intended that Russell would reprise the role of Ian in the 1983 story Mawdryn Undead alongside Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor for the twentieth season. Scheduling conflicts left him unavailable.[3]

After leaving Coronation Street in 1992, Russell had maintained 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 Productions. He also recorded readings for some of the CD audio adaptations of Doctor Who story novelisations originally published by Target Books.

In 1999, Russell returned to the role of Ian for the VHS release of The Crusade, of which "The Knight of Jaffa" and "The Warlords", the second and fourth episodes, respectively, are lost. He recorded several in-character scenes to camera, which helped to bridge the gaps between the existing episodes.

Russell 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 was a character in the drama and was portrayed by actor Jamie Glover.[4] Russell himself had a cameo role, playing a BBC Commissionaire named Harry.[5]

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 fiftieth anniversary; aged 88, he became the oldest person to portray the Doctor,[6] a record he held until March 2023, when Tom Baker portrayed the Fourth Doctor in the Big Finish audio series The Fourth Doctor Adventures at the age of 89.

Russell made a cameo appearance as Ian in the 2022 special "The Power of the Doctor".[7] With this, his final role, he won a Guinness World Record for the longest gap between TV appearances.[8]

Personal life and death


In 1953, Russell married Balbina Gutierrez. They had three children, Robert, Laetitia and Vanessa, and later divorced.[9]

In 1984, he married his second wife, Etheline Margareth Lewis,[10] a Barbadian Brazilian doctor.[11] Their son, Alfred was born in 1988. Alfred is now an actor too, best known for playing Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter film series and Wes Gibbins in the television series How to Get Away with Murder. They performed together in the 2020 movie Executive Order.

Russell died at his home from pneumonia on 3 June 2024, at the age of 99.[12][13]





Russell appeared in British films from 1950 onward, 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). He later played minor roles in Terror (1978), Superman (1978) and Death Watch (1979).

Year Title Role Notes
1952 Gift Horse a.k.a. Glory at Sea Crewman As Russell Enoch
1953 Appointment in London a.k.a. Raiders in the Sky RAF Officer Uncredited
Intimate Relations a.k.a. Disobedient Michael As Russell Enoch
Malta Story Officer in Prison Uncredited
Always a Bride Dutton's Chauffeur Uncredited
The Saint's Return a.k.a. The Saint's Girl Friday 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
1963 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
1990 Deadly Manor Alfred
2020 Executive Order Cameo appearance



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

Year Title Role Notes
1954 Lonesome Like Rev. Frank Alleyne Short Film, As Russell Enoch
1955 St. Ives St. Ives Main character, all 6 episodes
The Sleeping Beauty The Prince TV movie
1956 Theatre Royal Boy Episode: "The Assassin"
Assignment Foreign Legion Gerry Brooke Episode: "The Ghost"
The Adventures of Aggie a.k.a. Aggie Ted Jordan Episode: "Hypertension"
1956–1957 The Adventures of Sir Lancelot Sir Lancelot du lac / Sir Blaint Main character, all 30 episodes
1957 Hour of Mystery Kevin Ormond Episode: "Crime of Margaret Foley"
Nicholas Nickleby Nicholas Nickleby Main character, all 10 episodes
Sword of Freedom Count Rene D'Albert Episode: "The Strange Intruder"
1958 Television World Theatre Prince Pao Episode: "The Circle of Chalk"
Who Fought Alone: Epitaph on a Scottish Soldier TV movie
Saturday Playhouse Voulain Episode: "The Duke in Darkness"
Television Playwright Anthony Broderick Episode: "In a Backward Country"
1959 ITV Play of the Week Nevil Rigden Episode: "The Face of Treason"
Armchair Theatre Smoky Episode: "The Girl on the Beach"
Never Die Inspector Sauvé TV movie
Tales From Dickens David Copperfield 3 episodes: "Uriah Heep" (1959), "David and Dora" (1959), "David and Dora Get Married" (1961)
1960 St. Ives St. Ives Main character, all 6 episodes; remake of 1955 serial
BBC Sunday-Night Play Lord Bleane /

John Freeman /

Oliver Farrant /

Charles Hemington /

Col. Friedrich Eilers, Leader of a Fighter Squadron /

Gerald Croft /


7 episodes

"Twentieth Century Theatre: Our Betters" (1960)

"Twentieth Century Theatre: The Fanatics" (1960)

"Twentieth Century Theatre: I Have Been Here Before" (1960)

"Twentieth Century Theatre: The Elder Statesman" (1960)

"Summer Theatre: The Devil's General" (1960)

"An Inspector Calls" (1961)

"Pig in the Middle" (1963)

1961 Adventure Story Hephaestion TV movie
Triton Captain Belwether Main character, all 6 episodes
A Song of Sixpence Alberto Monzelli Short Film
Hamlet Hamlet 5 episodes
1962–1963 The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre Mike Stafford / Mike Cochrane 2 episodes, "The Share Out" (1962) and "Return to Sender" (1963)
1963 Drama 61-67 Mick Lambert Episode: "Drama 63: Somebody's Dying"
Jane Eyre St. John Rivers 2 episodes, Episodes 5 and 6
Moonstrike Philippe Episode: "The Biggest Bandit"
Suspense John Richards Episode: "The Patch Card"
1963–1965, 2022 Doctor Who Ian Chesterton 78 episodes
1966 Breaking Point Martin Kennedy Main character, all 5 episodes
1966–1967 This Man Craig Peter Rogers / Peter Woodburn / Avis 3 episodes: "Mates" (1966), "Old Flame" (1966), "You Can Choose Your Friends" (1967)
1967 Dr. Finlay's Casebook Neville Episode: "Who Made You?"
1969 Who-Dun-It Marcel Dupre Episode: "Don't Shoot the Cook" (1969)
Detective Bill Cartwright Episode: "And So to Murder"
Parkin's Patch Wilkins Episode: "No Friendship For Coppers"
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 Episode: "Accidental"
1978 BBC2 Play of the Week Lord Folkestone
Episode: "Fearless Frank"
Disraeli Wyndham Lewis 2 episodes
Parables Peter Vernon Episode: "A Gentle Rain"
Strangers Bamford Harker Episode: "Accidental Death"
1979 Testament of Youth Marriott Episode: "Buxton 1913"
Shoestring David Carn Episode: "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


Year Title Role Notes
2005 Doctor Who: The Monthly Range Darzil Carlisle Big Finish Productions; Story: "The Game"
2009–2014 Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles Ian Chesterton Big Finish Productions; 8 releases
2010–2013 Doctor Who: The Lost Stories Ian Chesterton Big Finish Productions; 4 releases
2011 The Five Companions Ian Chesterton Big Finish Productions; Special release
2013 The Light at the End Ian Chesterton, First Doctor Big Finish Productions; Special release
2014–2015 Doctor Who: The Early Adventures Ian Chesterton, First Doctor Big Finish Productions; 4 releases
2016–2017 Big Finish Short Trips Narrator 4 releases
2020 Susan's War Ian Chesterton Big Finish Productions; Story: "Sphere of Influence"


  1. ^ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916–2005.; at ancestry.com
  2. ^ Doctor Who The Collection: season 2
  3. ^ "BBC One – Doctor Who, Season 20, Mawdryn Undead – the Fourth Dimension". Archived from the original on 15 November 2022. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  4. ^ Foster, Chuck (8 February 2013). "An Adventure in Space and Time: Jamie Glover to play William Russell". Doctor Who News. Archived from the original on 11 February 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  5. ^ Foster, Chuck (9 February 2013). "An Adventure in Space and Time: William Russell". Doctor Who News. Archived from the original on 12 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  6. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (1 November 2010). "An Interview with William Russell". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 29 November 2022. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  7. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (23 October 2022). "Doctor Who's classic companions on their return: "It was a total joy"". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 3 November 2022. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  8. ^ Pilastro, Eleonora (23 November 2022). "Doctor Who character breaks record for longest gap between TV appearances". Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on 25 November 2022. Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  9. ^ "William Russell". Archived from the original on 23 January 2023. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  10. ^ "What Harry Potter's Alfred Enoch got up to next". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  11. ^ EURPublisher01 (30 October 2014). "From 'Potter' to 'Murder': Brit Alfred Enoch on His Hollywood Ride". Lee Bailey's Electronic Urban Report. Archived from the original on 6 September 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Coveney, Michael (4 June 2024). "William Russell obituary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 June 2024. Retrieved 4 June 2024.
  13. ^ Perry, Kevin E G. "Doctor Who original cast member William Russell dead at 99". Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2024.