Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Practically since I first started the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, I've also chosen new members from an "honors" list. These were TV characters who were shy of hte official requirements (3 different TV appearances to their credit), but for one reason or another deserved the "accolade". The first such inductees were Suzy MacNamara, Ann Sothern's character from 'Private Secretary', who was involved in the first TV crossover (with 'The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour'), and Ernie Kovacs, the first great artist of the new medium.

Other special honorees have been due to their multiversal presence, like Bilbo Baggins of "The Hobbit" and the Pigeon Sisters of 'The Odd Couple' (played by the same two actresses on stage, screen, and TV). Some were chosen who had the three required appearances but not officially under the character's real name (like Dr. Loveless of 'The Wild Wild West', who also appeared in 'Get Smart' under the alias of "Mr. Big", in 'Amos Burke, Secret Agent' as "Mr. Sin", and as "The Clown" in 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea'.)

Some actually did fulfill the requirements, like Mary Richards of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and Faith Yokas of 'Third Watch', but I had my own reasons as to why I wanted to give that extra special showcase.

For the year-long celebration of my half century on your planet, each month had an inductee that better fit the honors list. But that year, the motto was: "What I say, goes."

At times, I got carried away with the honorifics, some at Christmas, some in connection with other inductions, but I've pretty much settled down to just once a year on my birthday. And this year, since Inner Toob is running a mini-themed salute to 'Doctor Who', the birthday honors list salutes Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, formerly in charge of the British division of UNIT until he retired to teach math at the Brendon School.

The Brigadier is a recurring character in 'Doctor Who' with the distinction of interacting with the first seven incarnations of the Doctor. (There is some qualification to this. The Brigadier met the First Doctor in the anniversary special "The Five Doctors" when the Time Lord was played by a different actor. And he met the Sixth Doctor in the 'EastEnders' crossover special "Dimensions In Time".)

The Brigadier also showed up in a related project called "DownTime" with fellow inductee Sarah Jane Smith (May, 2007). This was a direct-to-video project and it could be argued that it should not be part of Toobworld proper. For that reason, it was decided to grant Lethbridge-Stewart the honorary status to avoid any argument.

His photograph can also be seen tacked to the roof-beam in Sarah Jane Smith's garrett office in the pilot for 'The Sarah Jane Adventures'. I would not be surprised if he made a return appearance via that series once it finally airs.

In keeping with the tradition of filling in the blanks of the Toobworld Jigsaw Puzzle, the Great Link, the Tele-Mosaic, with wild theories and suppositions, it's my belief we saw Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart in another TV show, albeit under a different name.

In an episode of 'The Avengers' entitled "Mission... Highly Improbable", Nicholas Courtney played a young British military officer named Gifford. While investigating the disappearance of a diplomat and an experimental armored transport in 1967, Gifford was miniaturized and flushed away down into the sewer.

The episode makes it appear that Gifford would have eventually perished from that fall through the grate, but I'm proposing that he survived. Perhaps it took several weeks for him to maneuver through the sewer system until finding rescue. (Perhaps he met a clan of "The Borrowers" while down there who could have helped him.) It could be that Gifford had been declared dead, and since his unique situation would have brought him under the scrutiny of 'Torchwood', they may have decided it would be better if the world continued to believe him to be dead.

Outfitted with the new alias of "Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart" (chosen perhaps because of its British... redolence), Gifford might have been installed into the British division of UNIT to act as a liaison for the Torchwood Institute. And that would have led to the beginning of his official relationship with the Doctor in 1968.

I say "official relationship" because it's another contention of mine that he met the Doctor while a young boy during World War II. From that episode of 'The Avengers', we don't learn Gifford's first name, so it will be my contention that it was Ernest; and as a young lad he was known as Ernie.

During the years of the Blitz, Ernie lived on the streets with other children under the guidance of a young woman named Nancy. And it was during one particular siege that they got the chance to have dinner with a mysterious man who called himself the Doctor. This Doctor and his companion Rose were able to solve the mystery of "The Empty Child" and reunite Nancy with her son Jamie, while at the same time neutralizing the threat of the Tula nanogenes.

(The older boy in that episode, Jim, might have been a better choice, age-wise, but the nose throws it off.)

This would add the Ninth Doctor to the list of those incarnations that the Brigadier has met. He doesn't appear in the TV movie from 1996 which was the sole appearance in Toobworld by Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, but with rumors that more tele-flicks may come of his adventures there is always hope. And before David Tennant's tenure as the Tenth Doctor is finished, there's always the chance that Nicholas Courtney may return to reprise the role.

After all, K-9 and Sarah Jane Smith have returned during the Tennant seasons; even the Macra, for crustaceans' sake! So why not the Brigadier?

And so for the Birthday Honors Salute for 2007, I'm pleased to announce that Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart has been inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.

'Doctor Who'
'The Avengers'
"Dimensions In Time"
'The Sarah Jane Adventures'

Toby OB


Brent McKee said...

And let us not forget that Nicholas Courtney played "Brett Vyon" in several episodes of "The Dalek's Master Plan" During William Hartnell's period. Could Vyon be a descendant of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart?

Incidentally that serial also featured Jean Marsh whose connections to Doctor Who are also very deep. She played Sara Kingdom in this episode, making her one of the Doctor's companions. In "The Crusade" serial she played Richard the Lion Hearted's sister Joanna, and she was in the Sylvester McCoy episode "Battlefield" as Morgaine. Oh yes, she was also married to the Third Doctor, although her marriage to Jon Pertwee ended in 1960.

Anonymous said...

I haven't kept up as well as I might with the Big Finish Audio productions, but I believe one of them has the Paul McGann Doctor in World War II with a young Lethbridge-Stewart. I read an interview with Nicholas Courtney around the time the new show was being launched in which he suggested that they might show Lord Lethbridge-Stewart in an episode, having been granted the title after years of service to UNIT and country. I think that's more plausible than trotting him out as the Brigadier, fresh from retirement, again, as they did in "Battlefield" (although I loved the appearance).