Biography

An Australian actor with a cult following in England and America, Nick Tate has enjoyed a successful career on three continents since the 1970s. Nicholas John Tate was born in Sydney, Australia, into a family of British and Russian extraction, with actors (and singers) on both sides going back two generations -- his father, John Tate (1914-1979), was a busy character actor whose movie appearances later included roles in On the Beach (1959) and The Day of the Triffids (1962). A performing career might have seemed a natural choice for Nick, but his parents initially tried to discourage this, hoping that he would choose a more conventional career. By age 14, however, Tate was playing the title role in the Sydney Opera Company's production of Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. That led to an entrée to Australian radio and, later, the fledgling television industry, for which he intended to work behind the camera, as a technician and director, learning the technical side of the visual medium over the next few years. By the mid-'60s, however, Tate was once again pursuing aspirations as an actor, encouraged by those around him who felt his talent and his rugged good looks would translate well in any medium. After a two-year interruption for the army, Tate returned to civilian life and immediately began getting stage and television work. In 1965, he emigrated to England, in part to restore some kind of contact with his father, who had moved to England in the wake of the breakup of his marriage to Tate's mother. What work the younger Tate got was mostly in action and crime series, such as Dixon of Dock Green and Z Cars -- which, ironically enough, were also the kinds of series in which John Tate appeared -- along with small roles in major movies, including A Man For All Seasons and Battle of Britain. Tate subsequently returned to Australia to work in a musical version of The Canterbury Tales and out of that got a leading role in an Australian television series called Dynasty (1970), in a role that teamed him onscreen with his father, who retired following the run of the series. Tate continued to do theatrical work, juggling it with television appearances, but by the mid-'70s he had returned to England. It was on that occasion that he was called in to read for the producers of a pilot for an intended new science fiction series called Space: 1999, which was to be distributed internationally. He was originally cast as a lunar pilot who is killed off in the first episode, but he was good enough that, in a casting shuffle, he won the co-starring role of Alan Carter, the chief pilot of Moonbase Alpha, a part that had to be rewritten for him to play it as an Australian. Tate's two seasons on Space: 1999 gave him a worldwide following, and his was easily the most popular character on the series, a resourceful, no-nonsense man of action, a sort of futuristic equivalent to the RAF pilots of World War II. His work on the series didn't distract him from more serious roles, however, and he was also cast in Fred Schepisi's The Devil's Playground in the part of Brother Victor, a role for which he won several acting awards. Tate's subsequent films have included Summerfield, The Gold and the Glory, and Cry Freedom, and he has also done a large amount of television work in England and Australia; he even managed to slip in work in the late '80s on the FOX network series Open House, which, for a change of pace, was a sitcom. Tate has since appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Murder, She Wrote, and JAG, and also portrayed Noodler in Steven Spielberg's Hook. In the 1990s, he also established himself as a voice artist, including work on the new run of episodes of Jonny Quest, among other animated series. After the dawn of the new century, Tate brought his family and career back to Australia, where, in addition to acting, he went on to write and direct. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi