The Forgotten Son has been out almost three weeks (or more, if you pre-ordered it) and it has garnered a lot of positive feedback, with mostly four-star reviews. People seem to really love it, which bodes well for the series as a whole.
But there is one point raised by a few readers which I want to address here. In The Forgotten Son I establish that Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart was born in Cornwall. This has confused some readers, who tell me ‘but he’s Scottish’. Which leaves me to wonder; is he? From where did you get this information?
My first source of reference is, and always will be, the television series. I have watched every story featuring the Brigadier many times, not only since 1988 when I was first introduced to the character, but also for research purposes. The only story which even suggests his origins is Terror of the Zygons, the season thirteen opener which is set in Scotland. In the early moments of the episode the Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive at the Fox Inn to find the Brigadier in a kilt. What follows is this conversation:
SARAH: Anyway, it’s nice to see you again, Brigadier.
BRIGADIER: And you, Miss Smith.
SARAH: Though I didn’t expect to see you in a kilt.
BRIGADIER: My dear Miss Smith, as you remember, my name is Lethbridge-Stewart. The Clan Stewart.
SARAH: Oh, sorry. I thought you were doing a Doctor.
BRIGADIER: What an absurd idea.
At the end of the story, the Duke of Forgil questions the Brigadier for not taking back the Doctor and Sarah’s return tickets to British Rail and getting a refund; ‘I thought you were a Scotsman,’ he says, and receives a bemused smirk from the Brigadier.
From these two exchanges it would appear that many have drawn the conclusion that the Brigadier is Scottish. Which is, on the surface, fair enough. (Of course, that he was originally in the Scots Guards could be used to back up this conclusion, except not every officer in the Scots Guards is Scottish.) However, a few points seem to be ignored when drawing this conclusion. The Brigadier does not sound Scottish in the slightest, which at least suggests he was not raised in Scotland or the north of England, and, most importantly, his name.
I looked it up, trying to discover where ‘Lethbridge’ originates, and it would appear to have come from a place name in Devon that no longer exists. The family name was derived from this place and has, over the centuries, been altered to the current form of ‘Lethbridge’. Indeed, to this day, the Lethbridge Baronets are a large and distinguished part of Devon heritage. From this it is clear that at least half of the Brigadier’s ancestry is English, while the other half is, as stated in Terror of the Zygons, Scottish as a once-part of the Clan Stewart.
None of which suggests he was necessarily born in Scotland – granted, beyond his accent, there’s nothing to suggest he wasn’t born in Scotland either. So, taking my cue from other Doctor Who media beyond the TV, I decided that the Brigadier wasn’t born in Scotland at all, as his accent suggests – an accent refined by schooling, no doubt. I went for Cornwall simply because of its proximity to Devon and the fact that the Brigadier always seems so at home whenever we see in villages on television.
As an interesting addition, in Lance Parkin’s The Dying Days, published in 1997, we learn about William Lethbridge-Stewart who was a friend of King James VI. Seeing no reason to contradict this, I have merged this information with soon-to-be established information, as seen in this excerpt from a yet-to-be released document called A Brief History of the Lethbridge-Stewarts:
‘The first recorded Lethbridge-Stewart was William Stewart, born in 1567. He was of the Clan Stewart, a relative of the Stuart Kings of Scotland. He grew up to be friends with James VI, and was with him when the young king claimed the English throne after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. By this time William had already met and married Mary Lethbridge, the daughter of the influential Lethbridge family in England – a marriage that was only approved on the condition that the Lethbridge name be maintained in conjunction with the Stewart name.’
And thus the ancestry of the Brigadier is explained in a way that does not contradict what’s been established on television, and successfully extrapolates information given and real life fact.
As an aside, William Lethbridge-Stewart was, one imagines, named after Nicholas Courtney himself, whose full name was William Nicholas Stone Courtney. Naming fictional characters after the real life people who inspired them is a fine tradition of authors all over the world, and one I like to keep alive. Indeed, in the Lethbridge-Stewart series I have named several characters after real people, or people that are connected to those who inspire the characters. Like Colonel Pemberton, a character referenced in the television story, The Web of Fear, who was named by writer Mervyn Haisman after his good friend Victor Pemberton, Doctor Who author and script editor. As a tribute to Pemberton’s life-partner I christened the character with the full name of Spencer David Pemberton (Victor’s partner was actor/producer David Spenser, who died in July 2013). There are other characters inspired by real people in The Forgotten Son – whoever can name the most, will receive a special prize from me (responses in the comments below, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org).