Monday, 1 August 2022


After the outpouring of affection over the last 24 hours, what more can be said?

Icon, trailblazer, actress, singer, symbol of empowerment, activist - Nichelle Nichols helped change the world into something more positive and far more respectful than we had seen before.

There's always going to be the story of that chance meeting with Dr Martin Luther King which helped keep her on the Enterprise following the first season, the nod from Whoopi Goldberg that Nichols inspired her in her career after seeing Uhura on Star Trek

Roddenberry's starship truly encompassed the globe but perhaps none of the characters or actors involved had the impact on civil rights that just the presence of Uhura did in the show.

Nichols onscreen time with the franchise started back with the first production episode, The Corbomite Maneuver and would remain with the series to its conclusion in 1969 before returning in the first six movies. The Undiscovered Country in 1991 would be her final canon appearance as Uhura although Nichols would play her legendary persona in the fan film Of Gods and Men. Sound clips from her appearances would be used even more recently for her animated appearance in Star Trek: Prodigy as part of a holodeck simulation drawing together some of the franchise's greatest crewmembers.

Portraying a character of responsibility (and not just a maid as Goldberg herself noted as a
child), Uhura and therefore Nichols presented a positive, optimistic role model which showed that at least (at that time) in the future everyone would be equal and have the same chances.

I was amazed at how just about every single post on my social media feeds was about Nichols and the impact she had on so many peoples' lives whether or not they met her. Pictures, autographs, memories are all there from fans who were touched by her role in Star Trek.

As a tribute to her memory, here are SKoST's Top Five Nichols Moments as Uhura

5. Mr Adventure

One of the more light-hearted moments from The Search for Spock shows Uhura on duty at a transporter station seemingly in the utter backwaters of Starfleet. Babysitting a junior officer who wants just a little bit of excitement, events soon come to pass. It's only when Admiral Kirk, McCoy and Sulu arrive that things start to hot up and he's forced at phaser-point to sit in the closet. This is a huge highlight for Uhura fans with more to do in one scene than she's had to do for the previous two movies. I'd recommend checking out the novelisation which adds even more to Uhura's narrative than we see on screen.

4. Taking Command

Often over-looked is this entry from TAS, the episode The Lorelei Signal. With the male members of the Enterprise crew subdued, Uhura takes command of the starship and the rescue mission.  Although "just" an animated episode this is a vital moment in the development of Lt Uhura from her position as communications officer into a full-blown commander of the ship and the mission. In later materials following The Undiscovered Country this wil go to the next step with Nyota gaining captaincy of the USS Leondegrance. More importantly it's another evolution of the ability of Star Trek to show the equality of all its characters in the ever-optimistic 23rd Century.

3. The Kiss 

How could any list of Uhura moments be complete without this? While the debate will continue ever-onwards as whether or not it was the first televised inter-racial kiss, it's an episode and a moment that lives on in near mythic status.
Perhaps Plato's Stepchildren as a whole hasn't aged that well and at points descends to a level somewhere near farce but it does have this one key scene. Forced to kiss by the Platonians, Kirk and Uhura made TV history if only because of the audience that saw it. The stories of ruining takes and angles have run around autobiographies and fan circuits for decades but once again Nichols was at the front and centre of a "risky" moment that networks were genuinely concerned about. It was banned in the UK for violent content, not for this watershed kiss.

2. The Gamesters of Triskelion

Maybe an odd one to include and I'm sure there will be debate as to whether there are others that I should have included. However I've dropped this second season episode in for the huge reason that Uhura is part of the unwilling away team alongside Kirk and Chekov.
The Gamesters of Triskelion is unusual precisely for the notion that it sidelines the usual Kirk/Spock/McCoy triumvirate in favour of something different and rarely seen in TOS.
Chekov might have been the new kid on the block in 1967 but to have Uhura as a key player here was massive. Check out the first season and pretty much everything to this point and Uhura is very much a background player - a fact that we know nearly led her to quit. But through perseverance things finally paid off and here she has a starring role. Fighting off unwanted advances from her drill Thall is a key scene with her character at no point becoming a damsel in distress.

1. Got to have a Tailpipe?

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
 provided each and every member of the original crew with standout moments throughout its running time. While the use of the Klingon dictionaries to create a "believable" dialogue with the border guards is fun to watch, Uhura's biggest moment here comes from her solution to the challenge of the cloaked Bird of Prey. Remembering that the Enterprise is carrying equipment to catalogue gaseous anomalies, she's the catalyst for Spock and McCoy to perform surgery on a torpedo. Uhura's actions ultimately cause the resolution of the movie, destroying Chang's ship and allowing the crew to save the day in the nick of time.

Nichelle Nichols

28 December 1932 - 31 July 2022

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