Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 21/7/2005Another one bites the stardust — James Doohan (don't even think of pretending you don't know who I'm talking about) has finally started his final slow dematerialisation.

Thursday 21/7/2005

Another one bites the stardust — James Doohan (don't even think of pretending you don't know who I'm talking about) has finally started his final slow dematerialisation. He lasted a long time for someone in a red shirt, eventually turning into the ultimate method actor — in the 80s and 90s, he was often to be found hanging around rocket scientists, talking avidly about ion engines and future projects — very early on making the decision that if you were going to be typecast, you might as well enjoy it.

Already, Planet Earth is planning to mark his passing. According to the relevant folklore, his character was — will be — born in Linlithgow, whose best-known offspring to date has been Mary, Queen of Scots, and the town is toying with the idea of putting up a blue plaque or something similar. That would be nicely weird, a memorial that starts "On or near this site in the year 2222…".

It would be traditional at this point to talk about the influences he and his buddies had on a generation of techies, the curious resilience of the mid-sixties catchphrases and icons which surrounded him, and perhaps throw in some historical context about exactly why the Scots became the engineers of Empire and gathered around them a culture of confidence where machines were concerned. Perhaps we can take all that as read, while neatly avoiding any delving into the idea of what things would have been like if he'd swapped places with that other screen Scotsman of the 60s, Sean Connery. How would they have played each others' roles? No, let's not.

I must say, I'm not looking forward to the great Galactic ghoul picking off the rest of the team one by one in some terrible drip-fed reminder of the loss of youth — they're probably not looking forward to it that much either. But with the Shuttle still having problems with its wiring — the ghost of that Austin 1100 certainly gets around a bit — and outer space still seemingly populated solely by the wandering hive-mind of Orlowski, it's worth keeping some of that fantasy alive, just so we can remind ourselves that dreams can drive reality. And, along the way, spawn some really cool mobile phones.

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