Candy Jar Books is celebrating 50 years of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart with a brand new direction for the popular book range.
You might’ve been concerned to hear that the previous novel, The Man From Yesterday is the last of the Phase 1 of the Lethbridge-Stewart series. Fortunately, the franchise is far from being all over – as Candy Jar reveals a series of six new titles!
The first five fall under the banner of The Laughing Gnome, and follows Sir Alistair, Brigadier Bill Bishop, and Dame Anne as they adventure through time, visiting the 1930s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the 2010s! These are followed by a novel that takes the readers right back to the start of the Brigadier’s journey and reveals the decision that changed his life forever!
The Laughing Gnome consists of: Scary Monsters by Simon A Forward, The Fear of Web by Alyson Leeds, The Danger Men by Nick Walters, Day of the Matador by Robert Mammone, and Lucy Wilson and the Bledoe Cadets by Tim Gambrell. These are followed by On His Majesty’s National Service by David A McIntee and Dr Lynette Nusbacher. Here the synopsis for The Laughing Gnome:
December 2011, and the Lethbridge-Stewart clan are gathering. The patriarch, Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart is not well. In fact, he’s dying.
He’s determined to face his end with dignity. He has lived a long life, seen a lot of strange things, saved the world more times than he can count, but he has also made a lot of mistakes.
What if he had a chance to revisit some of those mistakes?
Lethbridge-Stewart was, of course, created by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln for the serial, The Web of Fear, and returned the following year in The Invasion, promoted from colonel to the brigadier in command of UNIT. A legend was born, and the Brigadier, played by the wonderful Nicholas Courtney, continued as a regular fixture in Doctor Who until 1976, alongside both Jon Pertwee’s Third and Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctors.
He came back for Mawdryn Undead and Battlefield in the 1980s, and was name-checked in numerous serials since the show’s revival in 2005. Courtney’s final on-screen credit in the Who universe was in spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, but the character has enjoyed a long life in further media, including novels, short stories, audio plays, comics and, of course, his own series of novels with Candy Jar since 2015.
Of Scary Monsters, Simon Forward (Blood of Atlantis) says:
“To be invited back to contribute to the Brig’s 50th anniversary celebrations is a huge privilege. And with that privilege, like great power, comes great responsibility. We have a duty to the character and to Nick Courtney, the actor who ensured him such a long life in our imaginations. And we have the pleasure of throwing him into new situations and adventures. For my part, I’m aiming to pit him against a terror that is very much a part of his time but one that should resonate with our present. An international thriller, a haunting episode from the past, for our very British hero, teamed up with a returning character from Blood of Atlantis. Who you could call Watson to the Brigadier’s Holmes, but then he’d have to kill you.”
Alyson Leeds, penning her first novel for the series after her contribution to The HAVOC Files 4, says:
“Doctor Who was never part of my childhood. Born in the late ‘80s, I did not have a Doctor of my own, and by the time of the revival I was in my late teens. Though I enjoyed the show well enough, it was the expanded universe of Who, the novels and audios, that made me a fan. It was here that I first met the Brigadier, and where he instantly became a favourite character. It had always been my ambition to write, and I hoped that I might eventually get a chance to write for the world of Who. Never did I imagine that my first novel would roll both ambitions into one! That I should be writing for the Brigadier, and at so significant a point in his history, was certainly beyond my wildest dreams. Fifty years on from the Brig’s first appearance, so beautifully realised by Nicholas Courtney, many have talked about what makes the Brig such an enduring and beloved character. I find his simple honesty of spirit appeals to me most. He is not a complicated man; he does what he thinks is right, in a way that does not compromise his duty or his beliefs. In a world increasingly beset by troubles, a hero who will not hesitate to step forward and do the best he can is a perpetual breath of fresh air. My part of the story takes the Brig and Anne back to their ‘beginning’, to 1969 and the Underground. Having lived her life and come to terms with the losses she has felt along the way, Dame Anne is suddenly presented with the opportunity to change the past and save someone dear to her – her father. There will be consequences, that is undeniable, but how far would any of us go to save someone we loved?”
Nick Walters (Mutually Assured Domination; The Man from Yesterday), says:
“Candy Jar is doing something rather special and unexpected to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Brigadier. When Andy [Frankham-Allen, range editor] first told me about it a few years ago it sounded bonkers. A simple ‘X Doctors’ style reunion nostalgia trip this most certainly is not! It’s a bold, interesting and challenging idea which is going to take people by surprise. I was thrilled to be asked to write a story for this series. The idea for my story originated in a striking image which came to me last August whilst sitting in a coffee shop with Andy and all the other writers. I pitched the idea to Andy and he was on board straight away! The Danger Men is on the surface quite a straightforward, fun, spy thriller, a homage to everything from Bond to Bourne, Le Carre and Mission Impossible, and even the Milk Tray Man! There’s some serious stuff behind it, though, mainly in the backgrounds and motivation of the Bond-style villains of the story, who are led by the wonderfully-named (even though I say so myself), Dieter Allegro. Nothing is quite what you expect…”
Robert Mammone (Travers & Wells) says:
“The Brigadier is what every authority figure should be – steadfast and loyal, with just a hint of a twinkle in the eye, indicating he gets the joke as well. It is right, then, that the inheritors of that formidable legacy, Candy Jar, celebrate the character in his 50th anniversary year. Thanks to Candy Jar, I’ve been given the opportunity to write a story which honours the Brigadier, and celebrates the character Nicholas Courtney. Together with Anne and Bill Bishop, the Brigadier will face off against an old foe in the London of 1973. And lurking in the cracks of history, an ancient evil threatens to re-emerge into the light of day and overthrow the human race…”
Tim Gambrell, who is also writing his first novel, having contributed several short stories for the series, including The Bledoe Cadets and the Bald Man of Pengriffen, says:
“Writing for an icon like the Brigadier is an honour at any time, but how much more so to be given that opportunity as part of the character’s 50th anniversary celebrations? He’s such a likeable, enduring and, above all else, real character. What a joy to be able to take him by the hand and immerse oneself fully in the extended world that Candy Jar has created. It lets you write big stories, with real impact, but in small worlds, and affecting real people. I get the Brig, the Bledoe Cadets and Lucy Wilson as my playmates in a story that stretches from Alistair’s childhood to his days as a grandfather.”
David A McIntee teams up with Dr Lynette Nusbacher, military historian, and says:
“As I’ve said before, for me, the Brigadier’s place is all about Nick Courtney and the ideal match between character and actor, with both fitting the other so perfectly. It was said of Sean Bean than he didn’t so much play Sharpe as wear the role, and this is so true of Nick and the Brig as well. It’s such a rare thing to happen, and therefore particularly special that the resulting figure reaches fifty years or popularity, that it’s astonishing to be involved in looking back at that half century. Astonishing too, to be taking that figure to its basics, and exploring what’s really deep within this character. Every man is the sum of his memories, as the Doctor once said, but he’s also a product of the world around him, both inside his perceptions and outside. Worlds are big, bigger than you’d think, and you don’t need a TARDIS to have a range of experiences enough to fill anyone’s imagination. We may not have Nick any more, but he’s still in the Brigadier, and always will be, however big and involved the Brig’s world turns out to be.”
Excited? We certainly are!
Head over to Candy Jar Books to pre-order the anniversary series now!