William Russell, original cast member of ‘Doctor Who’ TV series, dead at 99

William Russell

William Russell, an original cast member in the long-running “Doctor Who” science fiction television series, died Monday. He was 99.

The death of the actor, who appeared in 77 episodes as science schoolteacher Ian Chesterton from 1963 to 1965, was announced on Tuesday, the BBC reported.

He returned to the show for a cameo appearance in 2022, according to The Guardian. According to Guinness World Records, Russell broke the record for the longest gap between television appearances at 57 years, 120 days.

In the first episode of the show, “An Unearthly Child,” which aired on Nov. 23, 1963, Russell’s character meets the Doctor, played by William Hartnell, the BBC reported.

Russell’s character mistakenly calls him Doctor Foreman, before Hartnell then replies, “Doctor Who?”

Russell’s other television appearance included playing the title role in the 1956 drama “The Adventures of Sir Lancelot,” and as Ted Sullivan in “Coronation Street,” according to the news organization.

He starred in the lead role in the 1957 BBC television adaptation of “Nicholas Nickleby,” The Guardian reported. Russell also appeared in films, with roles in “The Man Who Never Was” (1956), “The Great Escape” (1963) and “Superman” 1978, the BBC reported.

He also had roles in “Deadly Manor” (1990) and “Death Wish” (1980), according to The Guardian.

Russell was born William Russell Enoch on Nov. 19, 1924, in Sunderland, County Durham, England, according to He changed his surname at the behest of fellow actor Norman Wisdom, who believed that “Enoch” would publicize a vaudevillian rival with the same name, The Guardian reported.

Russell had four children including his son, Alfred Enoch, who is best known for playing Dean Thomas in seven of the “Harry Potter” movies, according to the BBC.

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