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EDITIONS
Breakfast Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 12:12 GMT
Your ticket to the galaxy
read on for a full transcript - or watch our Forum with Real Player
William Shatner - alias Captain James T Kirk of the starship Enterprise - was Breakfast's special guest on our interactive forum this week.

He stayed on after his appearance on our main programme to answer your e-mail questions, in a special forum hosted by Breakfast's presenter Natasha Kaplinsky.


We found out what William Shatner made of his Star Trek heroines - and how scripts for the early shows were still being written and handed to the actors, page by page, as they filmed their scenes.

But we started with the most famous "split infinitive" in the history of TV - Captain Kirk's pledge "to boldly go where no man has gone before"

Here is a full transcript of Breakfast's forum with William Shatner

Newshost:
Hello there and a very warm welcome to our special intergalactic forum. My guest is Captain James T. Kirk of the US Starship Enterprise, whose mission was to boldly go where no man has ...

William Shatner:
Split infinitive.

Newshost:
Stop that already. William Shatner is in London to promote the Star Trek Adventure which takes place at Hyde Park from the 18th of December to well into the New Year. And here to revive the magic of his role with all of us here on Star Trek - all our Star Trek fans. And have to say we've just been speaking on Breakfast and you're going on about this split infinitive - I don't really no what the problem is.

William Shatner:
To boldly go where no man has ...

Newshost:
Are we still going to continue this debate?

William Shatner:
No.

Newshost:
We've put some of the e-mails to you because we've literally had hundreds of e-mails.

William Shatner:
But first I must - I must tell you why I'm here and then we can get that out of the way.

Newshost:
Yes go on tell us.

William Shatner:
In Hyde Park on December 18th there opens the Star Trek Adventure, which is the most phenomenal show, other than the show itself, to have happened. In other words if you come to Hyde Park in London, December 18th and thereafter, until well into the winter, you will see the sets the costumes, the props, the interactive stuff - more about Star Trek than you've ever seen or heard of before. The show is destined to travel as well, so it'll go - it should go worldwide. But in the meantime, in Hyde Park, for the first time since 1860 a permanent exhibit in Hyde Park so that the City of London and the country of England is behind all this and it shows you how remarkable an event it really is.

Newshost:
It does promise to be very exciting and I've looked at the programme and as you said it starts on the 18th, it looks very, very exciting but we have had so many e-mails, so I'm just going to quickly start with those because they are literally - as we speak - they are flooding in.

So Julian Trevino ...

William Shatner:
Is Julian here?

Newshost:
No he's not but he's e-mailed us from Mexico to say: "What was your feeling after your character Captain Kirk was killed on the movie Generations?"

William Shatner:
Well I felt very badly about it, I would love to have continued. The part of Star Trek - the part of Captain Kirk on Star Trek was well written most of the time, I enjoyed playing it but I recognise that Paramount Studios wanted to have something new happen, put the new cast of Star Trek in, so I went along with what the fates and Paramount Studios had decreed.

Newshost:
Okay. Simon from Bedfordshire has e-mailed to say: "Do you ever get bored with people coming up to you saying Trekky things like - It's life Jim but not as we know it - how do you cope with that?"

William Shatner:
I have a variety of ways of reacting - turn my nose up, turn my back, claw at their eyes, choke back - and laugh. Some of the lines I've never said, some of them are so old I don't remember saying them and some of the people say it better than I ever said it.

Newshost:
But there must be people that you meet and you just think you're off this planet?

William Shatner:
There are a lot of people on this planet that are off this planet.

Newshost:
So tell us which lines didn't you say that have been attributed to you later on?

William Shatner:
Anything you say I didn't say.

Newshost:
Oh right, okay fine. Now Ian Dennis from Newcastle has e-mailed to say - he wants to know about a Director's Cut for Star Trek V - is that a possibility?

William Shatner:
There is a DVD out now about Star Trek V. Unfortunately Paramount wouldn't let me re-cut it or have any money to do additional special effects which I think it needed. But there are a lot of good things in the DVD of Star Trek V and I hope you'll avail yourself of them.

Newshost:
I will indeed. Colin from Uxbridge would like to know: "Have you ever thought about treading the boards in Broadway?" I mean it seems to be quite a Hollywood tradition doesn't it?

William Shatner:
Treading the boards?

Newshost:
Yeah.

William Shatner:
I've trod the boards quite often in the past in New York and elsewhere and I'm not doing stage work now because I'm really interested in film - the production, the directing, the writing of it - there is, for example, a film that I helped write and I did direct and even acted in called Groom Lake and Groom Lake will be in the DVD stores in January and I hope that people will look kindly on that.

Newshost:
I'm sure they will. Now these e-mails are coming in thick and fast as we speak. Matt Forsyth has e-mailed to say: "What was it like to work on those early Twilight Zone episodes?" That's an interesting question.

William Shatner:
I did a couple of the Twilight Zones that somehow were popular, they hit a vein, and you never know why or what it is that appeals to people to keep something alive for as long that has. When I worked on it I was a very young actor looking for work hungrily - trying to make a living - and so when they came along and they were quite popular even in the beginning I was very happy to have the work and to work with such giants in their field as those people.

Newshost:
But the role has really stuck with you hasn't it - I mean you've done many, many, many things since Star Trek but that's the role that you're really remembered for. So has it been a bit of a hindrance to you in any way?

William Shatner:
Well I suppose it has. I don't look at it as a hindrance. I write a lot of books and get them published because of my connection with Star Trek. For example, right now I have a book out called I'm Working On That and it's in the bookstores right now.

Newshost:
You're a busy man I don't know how you have time for all of this.

William Shatner:
Well it's a matter of focus and I'm Working On That is a look at the science of today - where it is, where it's going - and its connection to what Star Trek suggested might happen 300 years from now where we are even before that 300 period is past. I know nothing about science and the things around us interest me as to how they work and I ask that question to many scientists - how does this work, what is the future of this thing, where is it going? And it's that element that I approach in I'm Working On That. In fact the title of I'm Working On That came from Stephen Hawking who said when he visited the Star Trek set - I'm Working On that.

Newshost:
Now tell us about what it was like when you first started working on the series. Did you have any idea what a phenomenon it was going to become and how much part of history it was going to be?

William Shatner:
No nobody had any idea, I mean more than you are aware that this programme, that you're hosting, presenting, will live for a long time. You don't know it but the presenting duties you're doing here will live for, I would say, 35 to 36 years and you'll be renowned for this moment in time.

Newshost:
Only because I'm interviewing you - that's the reason I have to say.

William Shatner:
I'm joking of course. That's my way of saying that no, of course, nobody what was going to happen. It was a good show, the scripts were well written, we loved doing it, there was a good camaraderie with the cast and it was a fun show to do but nobody knew the phenomena it came to be.

Newshost:
Okay. But this is quite interesting - you talk about the story lines there and we've had an e-mail here from Malcolm Webb and he's e-mailed from Aukland and he wants to know whether or not you would have done anything differently with regards to the story lines and the scripts? Did you have any influence over them at all or you just had to do what you were told?

William Shatner:
We did influence the stories when there was time. We would suggest - certainly I would suggest things that might be different, if not better, and worked around it and the more confident I became in my critical faculties the more I tried to help and add. We had a list of wonderful writers and terrific directors but most of all we were behind the gun in time - we didn't have time to perfect things, series television and particularly that series the exigencies of time were working against us. So we did what we were told.

Newshost:
But you developed the relationships that existed, for instance, with sort of hostility or animosity between you and Spock?

William Shatner:
Right. We were able to help out - the actors were able to help out perhaps more than in most cases because we were so close to the material but like I say, as time went on, sometimes we never had a complete script, there were times when they would hand me pages as I was going on the set saying this is what we're shooting today and I didn't really know what the relationship was.

Newshost: Okay, that's interesting. Now Janet has e-mailed us, while we've been on air, to say: "Will you be a guest on the new series?"

William Shatner:
No. There's a new movie coming out called Nemesis - I don't know anything about it, anymore than you or anybody else out there. And I've never seen the new series and I don't see how it's possible for me to make a guest appearance.

Newshost:
Okay, now tell us a bit about the heroines because we haven't really spoken about those very much. Now they didn't ever really last more than one episode why not?

William Shatner:
Well once you're kissed by me ...

Newshost:
I'm saving myself.

William Shatner:
But why are you saving me?

Newshost:
This is supposed to be a serious interview come on.

William Shatner:
I'm being perfectly serious. The girls were pretty, they were wonderful and the more the merrier I think was the idea.

Newshost:
Okay, so get them in and chuck them out. Philip Guest from Bournemouth wants to know: "What do you think of the notorious music and monologue album The Transformed Man?"

William Shatner:
When I think about it because it's years old I look back on it as a good - I did something as well as I could at the time. The Transformed Man was a concept album in which I thought that the poetry of the day, of that year, which was evidenced in the songs of that time, whatever year that was - late 60s or early 70s - was the poetry of the time. So I took classical literature, put music to it and segued into the poetry of the songs of that time. So there was, in essence, a six minute cut. What happened was the radio play on it, it was too long for a radio play, and so they would use just the song, so at times people said - What is he doing with that song? - whereas, in effect, I was acting the song and singing the literature.

Newshost:
Okay, that's interesting. Sam Moffat has e-mailed from Swindon and she wants to know: "How did you manage to keep your face straight when you had to deal with some of the more outrageous looking aliens?"

William Shatner:
You put on a kind of cream that freezes and it keeps your face absolutely straight and the lines go and you do all the words like that.

Newshost:
Really?

William Shatner:
No, there's no cream.

Newshost:
How did you do it?

William Shatner:
Well you believe in what you're saying.

Newshost:
Could you really believe in what you were saying?

William Shatner:
Well why not? Are you believing in what you're asking?

Newshost:
Yes.

William Shatner:
Alright, but I believed in what I said.

Newshost:
Okay. So it was just pure - it was just you?

William Shatner:
It's called the magic of acting.

Newshost:
Irene Hill from Oxford would like to know how your relationship with your co-actors off set on the USS Enterprise was and are you still in touch with them?

William Shatner:
Well my dearest friend is Leonard Nimoy - I love him and admire him above all else and he me. We're dear pals. And that has grown over the years, I say that's one of the things I point to with great pride is my friendship with Leonard. The others in the cast have written things that have not been kind about me, I've never read them but I've been told about them and I don't understand that because I think they're admirable people and if you know somebody for all these years you have to care about them - that's my feelings for them.

Newshost:
Now Lee Hunt - we have had so many e-mails I'm afraid we haven't had time to get through even half of them but anyway - Lee Hunt from Oxley wants to know: "What was your most memorable memory from playing the Captain?"

William Shatner:
I loved the part of Captain Kirk for the demands it made on me. There were times that I had to play double roles - I had to play a woman in my body, how do you do that with no given notice, no rehearsal time? And all the difficult things that had to be solved and overcome, I had good fun with that.

Newshost:
Okay. Now let's just remind everybody about the Star Trek Adventure. It starts on the 18th.

William Shatner:
Star Trek Adventure is a wonderful event taking place in Hyde Park, opening December 18th and I think your audience will enjoy going to it even if you're not a Star Trek nut, you will become one if you go to see this event.

Newshost:
It's the biggest collection of Star Trek memorabilia ever collected.

William Shatner:
The sets, the memorabilia, the props, the interaction - you'll have a wonderful time if you go. And you can spend hours there.

Newshost:
Now I know that you've got three daughters I think haven't you and you've got grandchildren, are they a bit obsessed by your past?

William Shatner:
Are they obsessed by my past?

Newshost:
Yes and the excitement of it.

William Shatner:
They feel they owe me a debt of having created them - that's about it.

Newshost:
Well it's a great pleasure to meet you, I have to say and I know that you're very busy with all sorts of other projects at the moment.

William Shatner:
There's nothing of more importance than the Star Trek Adventure.

Newshost:
Thank you very much indeed. We're very much looking forward to it and I'm certainly going to be going on the 18th. It's great to meet you William Shatner, I'm very sorry to everybody that haven't been able to put their questions to you. Well as I said my special thanks to William Shatner and of course to all of you who sent your e-mails in, I'm sorry if I didn't have a chance to read them out but there will, hopefully, be another chance at some stage. If you want more on Star Trek do go to our website, you know the address but it is: www.bbc.co.uk/breakfast. That's about it from us, we'll be back very soon, have a very good day, thanks for joining us, goodbye.

  • William Shatner's latest book is called I'm Working on That. The ISBN is 0671 04737 - X
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