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Feature: Star Trek
The Search for Spiner
With Brent Spiner appearing in the new season of Star Trek: Enterprise, we set out to talk to The Next Generation’s former android. Only problem is, we have to find him first…
Milton Keynes: not necessarily everyone’s first choice for a weekend break, admittedly, but there’s a reason I’m here. Collectormania is an irregular event held at Middleton Hall in The Centre, MK’s disturbingly large shopping mall in which it’s advisable to leave a trail of breadcrumbs so you can get back out. It’s an impressive gathering of the great and good from the world of Sci-Fi, present to sign autographs and have their pictures taken with fans. There is also a huge collection of stalls selling comics, books, toys, games, photos, swords and anything else the discerning geek might wish for.
Having never been to Milton Keynes before, I was concerned I’d have trouble finding the place, but from the first sighting of a young man in a Star Trek: The Next Generation uniform, there’s a helpful chain of spods pointing the way. Ranging from Jedi, assorted Imperial guards, a Tusken Raider and the obligatory Klingon to those who should never be allowed to squeeze into a Starfleet uniform and people in genre T-shirts, it’s a little on the scary side.
After I’ve appeared in the background of quite a lot of people’s photos, PR man Bob arrives and I’m taken past fellow ST:TNG alumni Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn to the reason I’m here: one Brent Spiner, former Data and soon to be Enterprise guest star. Happily signing autographs, chatting to fans and posing for photos, he’s friendly, funny, upbeat and frequently entertainingly rude (“Is that your real name?” he asks a man named Phil, quickly adding, “I’m kidding, it’s a fine name.” in case he gets thumped).
So, I ask, why Enterprise, and why now? “Well, it’s the only Star Trek show on the air at the moment and they asked me,” replies Spiner honestly. “If it had been ER and they’d asked me, I probably would have said yes too.” He’s been keeping up with the show (“I watch it religiously, every Sunday morning”) and was familiar to the cast when on set. Was there hero worship? “I wouldn’t call it hero worship, I would say more like abuse,” he deadpans. “No, no, they were perfectly wonderful. They’re really a very nice cast; I think they’re really talented, all of them, I just think everybody needs more time, more opportunities. I think this is gonna be their year though.” Did he feel any pressure is being put on him to increase the show’s ratings? “No. Surely they don’t expect I’m gonna increase the ratings, y’know? But I hope there’s a little blip on the ratings meter, but I’m not expecting anything gigantic and I hope they’re not either.”
Amazingly, despite the convention circuit, Spiner had never encountered any of the Enterprise cast before. “No, never. Never any of them. I’ve known Scott [Bakula, Captain Archer] previously; we’ve both been around for a while so I’ve known Scott. As a matter of fact, when I was doing Data back in the old days on the series, people used to say, ‘Is there anything else you would rather be doing?’ and I’d say, ‘No, but the only other show I’d be jealous of the actor is Scott Bakula on Quantum Leap, who gets to do so many things.”
by Paul Spragg
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