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For The Love Of StoriesBig Finish produce fantastic full-cast audio dramas for CD and download.

William Russell was born William Russell Enoch, 1924, in Sunderland, England. Known as Russ to his colleagues, he was respected for his extensive body of work in film, television, and theatre – a career which began in the early 1950s, making notable appearances in British films such as The Man Who Never Was (1956) and The Great Escape (1963). 

However, he gained widespread recognition for his role as Ian Chesterton, starring alongside William Hartnell's First Doctor, from the show's inception in 1963 until 1965, establishing himself as a beloved figure in the Whoniverse. 

After his departure from Doctor Who, Russ continued to enjoy a successful career in both television and stage productions. He appeared in various popular TV series, including the title role in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, and guest-starred in shows like Robin of Sherwood, Coronation Street, Casualty, Poirot, and Heartbeat

In addition to his screen work, Russ remained active in theatre, performing in numerous productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His enduring contributions to the entertainment industry solidified his reputation as a versatile and talented actor, with a career spanning over six decades.

He first recreated the role of Ian at Big Finish in the Companion Chronicles story, The Transit of Venus, released in 2009. It was a part he would return to regularly, most recently in Susan's War (2020). 

Here, producer David Richardson pays tribute: 

"You’ll hear the word ‘gentleman’ attached to William Russell’s name a lot in the coming days. He was a gentleman, and a gentle man. I was lucky to work with him many times on The Companion Chronicles, The Early Adventures and other ranges and he made every day so easy – he was excellent company, always so delighted to see the team and always such a first class storyteller.

"We all love him for Doctor Who, but in the green room he would treat us also to reminiscences of working on The Great Escape and The Adventures of Sir Lancelot… Those times were golden. He lived to an amazing age, and through so many different turbulent times in history, and was an example to us all. A truly amazing man."

And Big Finish Chairman, Jason Haigh-Ellery added: 

"I am very sorry to hear of the loss of William Russell. He was a stalwart of Doctor Who in all its many forms, playing schoolteacher Ian Chesterton for 59 years on television and last appearing in a Big Finish release in April 2020.

"Russ was a wonderful actor and as the first male companion of the Doctor, provided reassurance to young viewers that the Doctor, his granddaughter Susan and fellow teacher Barbara would all escape that week's adventure intact. He loved playing the part – and made that very clear during his many convention appearances and in his conversations in the green room.

"I last saw him in person in 2019 at the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles, where he still had a smile for everyone and a warm greeting. A life well lived, but still gone too soon."

● William Russell Enoch, actor, born 19 November 1924; died 3 June 2024

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