Friday 30 September 2016

50 years of Star Trek: 50 facts you should know

Published 18/07/2016 | 10:03

Actor John Cho poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Star Trek Beyond' in London. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Actor John Cho poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Star Trek Beyond' in London. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

To mark 50 years of sci-fi classic Star Trek - and celebrate the release of the latest movie adventure Star Trek Beyond - Jared Tinslay boldly dips into the long and prosper archives...

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IN THE BEGINNING...

1. In 1964, former pilot Gene Roddenberry drafted his first pitch for a new science-fiction series, which would later become Star Trek.

2. Despite paying for its creation, TV network NBC rejected the 1965 pilot of Star Trek, called The Cage, which counted Captain Pike, played by Jeffrey Hunter, Number One and Boyce among its crew.

3. One person who was sold on the idea was Lucille Ball, who co-owned Desilu Productions and convinced the studio to give it a second chance.

4. But Hunter, who also starred in John Wayne film The Searchers, didn't reprise his role as the Enterprise's captain, choosing to focus on film work instead.

5. The second pilot episode was called Where No Man Has Gone Before.

6. This time, the crew featured Captain James Kirk (William Shatner), half-Vulcan Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott (played by the late James Doohan), and Hikaru Sulu (George Takei).

7. Keen to salvage The Cage, Roddenberry used flashbacks from the episode in later series, so the original crew lived on.

8. In 1966, the first regular episode, The Man Trap, was broadcast.

9. Texas-born Roddenberry, who died in 1991, originally pictured Mr Spock as having "reddish skin", but plumped for a greenish tinge on realising Nimoy would have to spend hours in make-up.

10. Ratings dipped after the series was moved to a graveyard slot, and by the third series, Roddenberry had resigned as the showrunner.

BEYOND TV...

11. When at first you don't succeed, why not try in cartoon? That's what many of the original cast did when they voiced their characters in the 1973 animated Star Trek series.

12. The first big-screen outing was 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Slated for its lack of action, the film came hot off the heels of Star Wars: Episode IV.

13. Three years later, however, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, fared much better with critics, taking 78,912,963 US dollars at the box office.

14. The series returned to the small screen with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987, set decades on from the original and starring Sir Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

15. The Next Generation crew make their first film appearance in 1994's Star Trek: Generations. It's in this film that Captain Kirk dies.

16. After 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, the Enterprise took a seven-year break from the big screen. The team returned with 2009's Star Trek under the guidance of J.J. Abrams, who brought in Nimoy as an elderly Mr Spock.

17. Matt Damon was reportedly considered - but turned down the role of George Kirk, James' dad, in the movie.

18. Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barrett, who played Nurse Chapel in the original series, is also known for voicing the Starfleet computer. She recorded her final part for the 2009 film before her death in 2008, aged 76.

19. Nimoy's last film appearance as Spock was in 2013's Into The Darkness. He died in February 2015 aged 83.

20. Star Trek will be returning to television next year, with CBS developing a new series set in the same time as the most recent films.

POP CULTURE...

21. The first annual Star Trek convention was held in New York in 1972.

22. London boasts the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Star Trek characters, when 1,063 fans donned their costumes in 2012.

23. On learning of Nimoy's death, International Space Station astronaut Terry Virts tweeted his Vulcan salute from orbit.

24. Good at picking up languages? Why not have a go at Klingon or Vulcan? Both actual languages, having been expanded and refined by professional linguists.

25. In 1976, the then-US president Gerald Ford was bombarded with thousands of letters from fans insistent the first NASA Space Shuttle should be called Enterprise. Their wish was granted but unfortunately Enterprise never made it into space.

26. Star Trek was sent up in a different way in 1999, however, with the release of popular parody Galaxy Quest.

27. British band The Firm spent two weeks at the top of the charts in 1987 with their number one hit Star Trekkin'.

28. The Royal Canadian Mint has introduced new coins inspired by Star Trek characters.

29. Star Trek and Star Wars have always had a 'friendly' rivalry, but in 2011, George Takei called for an end to the debate over which is superior. He called for 'Star peace' amid an "ominous threat to all science fiction", in reference to the Twilight series.

30. Star Trek has been referenced in The Simpsons, Futurama and The Big Bang Theory.

FAMOUS FANS...

31. Martin Luther King Jr was a Trekkie. He convinced Nichelle Nichols to remain in the series as Uhura instead of persuing a career on Broadway.

32. Lifelong fan Barack Obama delivered a heartfelt speech on learning of Nimoy's death.

33. Angelina Jolie told US TV host Jon Stewart she had a soft spot for Spock in her youth.

34. American actress, singer and writer Rosario Dawson is an avid fan, who has shown off her proficiency for Klingon during chat show appearances.

35. The character of Guinan was written for aficionado Whoopi Goldberg.

36. The only person to have guest starred as themselves is Stephen Hawking. In The Next Generation series, he plays a game of poker with Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Data.

37. Ronald Reagan visited the set in 1991 during filming of Redemption.

38. Eddie Murphy turned down a starring role in Star Trek IV - made specifically for him - to film The Golden Child.

39. King Abdullah II of Jordan briefly appeared on screen in season two of Voyagers when he was still the Crown Prince.

40. Patrick Stewart was impressed with Tom Hanks' knowledge of Star Trek, saying the Big star doesn't just "watch every show, he reads the credits" too.

STAR TREK BEYOND...

41. Simon Pegg co-wrote the new film, Star Trek Beyond, after the original writer pulled out. Pegg, known for his work on comedy Spaced and Shaun Of The Dead, also has a role in the movie as Scotty.

42. To research, Pegg and co-writer Doug Jung would bunker down and re-watch episodes of the original series.

43. In Pegg and Jung's story, the Starship Enterprise is three years into a five-year exploratory mission and the crew are feeling stir-crazy.

44. Although there will be a degree of levity to the film, Pegg insists it isn't a comedy.

45. Idris Elba will appear as a completely new character, a villain called Krall.

46. Fast & Furious director Justin Lin has taken over the director's baton from J.J. Abrams.

47. The film reunites Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, John Cho as Sulu and the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov.

48. Yelchin tragically died in a freak car accident in June this year, aged 27.

49. The film was made in Vancouver and Dubai.

50. Saldana says one of the greatest privileges in her career was to have known Nimoy.

:: Star Trek Beyond is in cinemas from Friday, July 22

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