Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Star Trek: the Aussie connection

Today, on TrekBBS, someone asked why none of the Star Trek series or movies featured a ridgie didge Australian character.

Nella DarenwhiteLiam Bilby

However, the poster had forgotten Wendy Hughes (left), aka Lt Cmdr Nella Daren, love interest of Captain Picard in "Lessons" (Star Trek: The Next Generation), is Australian, albeit without a strong accent. Born in Melbourne, Ms Hughes speaks (in most of her many TV, stage and movie roles Down Under, such as Lucy Sutcliffe's niece, Vanessa Harrison, on Number 96) with very cultivated English pronunciations, similar to many Aussie actresses working in Australia in the 70s. So, anyway, there's at least one Australian Starfleet officer.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Liam Bilby ("Honor Among Thieves") is also played by an Australian, Nick Tate (right), previously of Space: 1999 fame - and Holiday Island infamy! Since Bilby and his family reside at the New Sydney Colony - and a bilby is an Australian marsupial - I assume his character is also supposed to be of Australian origin (despite his American accent).

Tate was also a shuttle pilot called Dirgo on TNG ("Final Mission"), but that character is an early Michael Westmore humanoid "forehead alien". Bilby in DS9, though, definitely pays homage to Nick's human Aussie roots.

These two actors are certainly not the only Aussies to have worked on Star Trek, but Dame Judith Anderson (as Vulcan High Priestess T'Lar on ST III) and ex-Neighbours' Alan Dale (as Romulan Praetor Hiren in "Nemesis") both appeared on the silver screen in pointed latex ears!

Onya guys!


AdamJ said...

I quite liked her, I had no idea she was Australian though. Goodo. :) Good old Picard, English guy scores with Aussie chick! ;)

world in progress said...

I liked Hughes as well. She would have made a good Crusher in an alternate universe.

Of course there's no reason to think that just because the performer's Australian that the character is as well.

In Nick Tate's case, "Bilby" I guess could be a hint, but even then, how many Australians do you know who are called Dingo, Kookaburra or Eucalyptus?

Therin of Andor said...

Well, there's Aboriginal TV presenter, Ernie Dingo! :)

In fact, other Aboriginal surnames are derived from English pronunciations of Australian animals and artefacts and English words. After the coming of the Europeans, Aboriginal people working for landowners and squatters sometmes took the surname of the person they where working for, a locality, or they were given Anglicised names. (A similar thing happened in Britain in the 12 and 13th century, when family names first started to come into vogue.)

There is an accounting firm near here with the surname "Kneebone" as one of the partners, I assume a relative of athlete Nova Peris-Kneebone? I've also taught at a school with a child with the surname "Bilby".

Then, of course, Australian names often have Aboriginal origins. For example, a "kylie" is a boomerang/weapon.

And check out this site, which gives examples such as "CockNose", "Jupiter" and "King David"!