Nik Zaran (Tracy Connell)

Character & Episode: Brin in The Trouble with Women
Born: 19/01/1933, Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines (as Tracy Connell)
Died: 03/01/2014, Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines

Nik entered the world in January 1993 in Kingstown with the given name Tracy Connell. A keen sportsman, good at football and cricket, he attended St Vincent Grammar School and harboured a desire to become an actor. This led to him leaving Kingstown for England at the age of 19. He initially joined the Royal Air Force and soon after went into acting training which was funded by the RAF.

Working to begin with under his birth name, he made his television debut in 1961 as Abdul, a regular character in the second series of the BBC situation comedy A Life of Bliss, which starred George Cole. Roles followed in the ITC series Espionage (A Camel to Ride, 1963), Danger Man (A Man to be Trusted, 1964) and The Saint (Sibao, 1965). His final British acting credit as Tracy Connell came in a 1967 Armchair Theate play, Any Number Can Play, after which he adopted the stage name Nik Zaran and continued his career. His first role using his new name came in 1968 when he appeared in the Man in a Suitcase episode The Revolutionaries. Shortly afterwards, he featured as Lieutenant Sorba in the Doctor Who story The Space Pirates. He also made contributions to The Saint, Hine, The Troubleshooters, Jason King and The Adventurer, among other series. Notably, he appeared in the cult film Shaft in Africa in 1973. His final British television appearance was in the popular BBC situation comedy It Ain't Half Hot Mum in 1974.

Nik returned to his homeland in 1977, where he continued to work in the performing arts, once again assuming his birth name Tracy Connell, consigning the Nik Zaran identity to history. Back in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tracy founded a theatrical company at the Peace Memorial Hall in Kingstown. The company staged many memorable productions including That Christmas Feeling, which Tracy wrote, produced and directed in 1981.

When he passed away following a short illness at the age of 80 on 3rd January 2014, his nephew Chester Connell described Tracy as an actor, dancer, thinker and creator. Shortly after his uncle had been laid to rest in the yard of St George's Cathedral, Kingston, Chester paid tribute: "He created a wave in drama and theatre in a way no-one else did, and made a significant contribution to the artistic movement in St Vincent and the Grenadines." He left a widow, Toni. Unfortunately, Nik/Tracy's credits are filed separately on internet databases and his stage name is, almost without fail, erroneously reported as Nick Zaran.

Section compiled by Darren Senior

Additional research and presentation by Alan Hayes

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