Doctor Who breaks TV record with William Russell’s return as Ian Chesterton

Doctor Who breaks record for longest gap between TV appearances with William Russell’s return as companion Ian Chesterton after 57 years

Doctor Who has broken the record for the longest gap between TV appearances with William Russell’s return to the show in Jodie Whittaker‘s last episode.

The popular sci-fi series delighted longtime fans by bringing back a number of familiar faces for Jodie’s last hurrah in The Power of the Doctor, which aired in October.

Among those who returned to the show was William, 98, who starred as science teacher Ian Chesterton, a companion of the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell.

He's back: Doctor Who has broken the record for the longest gap between TV appearances with William Russell's return to the show in Jodie Whittaker's last episode

He’s back: Doctor Who has broken the record for the longest gap between TV appearances with William Russell’s return to the show in Jodie Whittaker’s last episode

He appeared in 77 episodes during the first two seasons from 1963 until 1965 and returned to the show after 57 years for Jodie’s nostalgic final episode as the Doctor.

And his return has broken the record for the longest gap between TV appearances at 57 years and 120 days, the Guinness World Records has revealed.

Announcing the record on the BBC show’s 59th anniversary, they confirmed: ‘The longest gap between TV appearances is 57 years 120 days, and was achieved by William Russell (UK) as the Doctor Who character Ian Chesterton in the ‘The Power of the Doctor’ episode, which aired on 23 October 2022.’

Coronation Street’s Philip Lowrie previously held the record for the longest gap between TV appearances, returning to the role of Dennis Tanner after 43 years. 

Original run: He appeared in 77 episodes during the first two seasons from 1963 until 1965 and returned to the show after 57 years for Jodie's nostalgic final episode as the Doctor

Original run: He appeared in 77 episodes during the first two seasons from 1963 until 1965 and returned to the show after 57 years for Jodie’s nostalgic final episode as the Doctor

William returned to the series as Ian for a brief appearance in the latest episode, as he attended a support group for the Doctor’s former companions in a heartwarming moment at the end of the episode.

As the group all discuss their mutual time-travelling friend, Ian expressed his surprise that the Doctor is a woman, having not met Jodie’s version of the character. The Doctor had also not regenerated before when Ian departed the show in 1965.

As well as Ian’s brief appearance, fans of the original show were also treated to the return of ex companions Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Tegan (Janet Fielding).

Former Doctors Peter Davison and Colin Baker also made guest appearances in the epic as an array of famous faces returned for the nostalgic episode.

Familiar faces: The popular sci-fi series delighted fans by bringing back familiar faces for Jodie's last hurrah in The Power of the Doctor. Pictured: William as Ian in the original show

Familiar faces: The popular sci-fi series delighted fans by bringing back familiar faces for Jodie’s last hurrah in The Power of the Doctor. Pictured: William as Ian in the original show

Stars: Among those who returned to the show was William Russell, who starred as science teacher Ian Chesterton, a companion of the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell (pictured)

Stars: Among those who returned to the show was William Russell, who starred as science teacher Ian Chesterton, a companion of the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell (pictured)

The Power of the Doctor was also jam-packed with excitement as Jodie bowed out after five years as the Time Lord, David Tennant made his return, and fans were given a first-look at Ncuti Gatwa as the 14th Doctor.

The episode came to a very dramatic conclusion as Jodie’s Doctor shockingly regenerated into a very familiar face – David’s 10th Doctor.

Despite not being ready to regenerate, she said while watching the sunset: ‘The blossomiest blossom. That’s the only sad thing. I want to know what happens next.

‘Right then, Doctor Whoever-I-am-about-to-be. Tag, you’re it,’ before Tennant made his shock appearance.

Exciting: The Power of the Doctor was also jam-packed with excitement as Jodie bowed out after five years as the Time Lord

Exciting: The Power of the Doctor was also jam-packed with excitement as Jodie bowed out after five years as the Time Lord

The newly regenerated Doctor ran his fingers over his teeth and said ‘I know these’ clearly perplexed as he returned to his former body. 

David is returning for three special episodes, set to air in November 2023, after bowing out from the role in 2010.

The feature length 60th celebration of the sci-fi series will also star Catherine Tate before Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa takes control of the Tardis.

Jodie’s finale episode ended with a short trailer for the new series, which will hit screens in late 2023.

Surprise: The episode came to a very dramatic conclusion as Jodie's Doctor shockingly regenerated into a very familiar face - David Tennant's 10th Doctor

Surprise: The episode came to a very dramatic conclusion as Jodie’s Doctor shockingly regenerated into a very familiar face – David Tennant’s 10th Doctor 

The trailer teased Ncuti’s much-anticipated arrival as the star was seen asking: ‘Can someone tell me what the hell is going on?’ 

Following the episode, Russell said: ‘If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way!’ 

‘The path to Ncuti’s Fifteenth Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun! And how is it connected to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We’re giving you a year to speculate, and then all hell lets loose!’

Meanwhile, Ncuti’s new companion was also recently revealed to be Coronation star Millie Gibson, becoming the youngest ever assistant, called Ruby Sunday.

Big changes: The feature length 60th celebration of the sci-fi series will also star Catherine Tate before Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa takes control of the Tardis

Big changes: The feature length 60th celebration of the sci-fi series will also star Catherine Tate before Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa takes control of the Tardis

The actress, 18, made a special appearance at the 2022 Children in Need fundraiser live on BBC One on Friday, where the news was shared

In a statement, the star said that the new role is a ‘dream come true’ as the much-anticipated secret was finally revealed, much to the delight of fans.

‘Whilst still being in total disbelief, I am beyond honoured to be cast as the Doctor’s companion,’ Millie said in the statement released by the BBC. 

‘It is a gift of a role, and a dream come true, and I will do everything to try and fill the boots the fellow companions have travelled in before me.’

She added: ‘And what better way to do that than being by the fabulous Ncuti Gatwa’s side, I just can’t wait to get started.’

At just 18, Millie is the youngest actor to be cast in the role, surpassing a record set by Matthew Waterhouse, who was 19 when he was cast in Doctor Who in the 1980s. 

Ncuti, 30, was recently announced as the new Doctor and said in a statement that Millie is ‘full of talent’.

Co-stars: Meanwhile, Ncuti's new companion was also recently revealed to be Coronation star Millie Gibson, becoming the youngest ever assistant, called Ruby Sunday

Co-stars: Meanwhile, Ncuti’s new companion was also recently revealed to be Coronation star Millie Gibson, becoming the youngest ever assistant, called Ruby Sunday

‘She is full of talent, strength, she has a cheeky sparkle in her eye and is sharp as a razor,’ he said. 

‘From the moment she walked into the room she captured all of our attention with her effervescence and then solidified that attention with the sheer torque of her talent.’

He added: ‘This adventure is going to be so wild and so fun, I cannot WAIT to sail the universe with Millie!’

Millie appeared at the Children in Need fundraiser on Friday and walked through the Doctor Who TARDIS while live on stage, sharing the news. 

'This is a dream come true!' Millie appeared at the Children in Need fundraiser on Friday and walked through the Doctor Who TARDIS while live on stage, sharing the news

‘This is a dream come true!’ Millie appeared at the Children in Need fundraiser on Friday and walked through the Doctor Who TARDIS while live on stage, sharing the news

‘I can’t believe it myself, I’ve had to keep it so secret that this has been the first time I believe it,’ Millie said. 

When asked how she feels about the role, she continued: ‘It’s insane, I’m so honoured that I was even considered for an audition, I just hope I can make you all happy and live up to the others.’

‘I’m going to play a character called Ruby Sunday.’

The Doctor’s companion is the character who travels or shares adventures with the Doctor, with Millie set to make her debut over the festive season in 2023.

Star: At just 18, Millie is the youngest actor to be cast in the role, surpassing a record set by Matthew Waterhouse, who was 19 when he was cast in Doctor Who in the 1980s

Star: At just 18, Millie is the youngest actor to be cast in the role, surpassing a record set by Matthew Waterhouse, who was 19 when he was cast in Doctor Who in the 1980s 

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