Lionel Nimoy: A Moving Tribute

8 03 2015

Fans of the cult BBC Alba sci-fi show Staran Trek were saddened to hear of the death of respected actor Lionel Nimoy, who played the role of Mr Spag in the long running series.

Nimoy rose to fame in the late 1960’s when BBC Alba agreed to commission a sci-fi series written by Gene Rodelbury about the five year voyages of a Mitchell’s bus, going ‘where no maw has gone before’ to ‘seek out new bus routes’.

The star of the show was Uileam Shader, who played Captain Seamus ‘Free’ Kirk, the gallant bus driver and part time lay preacher. Nimoy played the supporting role of Mr Spag, the bus’s Science Officer, who came from the strange alien world of Ulpan. Also in the cast were the well loved characters Dr ‘Bones’ MacKay, the cantankerous medical advisor, Chief Mechanic Scottroad and Lt Uthighearna (who went on to share the first interdenominational screen kiss on BBC Alba with Capt Free-Kirk).

Although Shader was ostensibly the star of the show, Nimoy’s performance as Mr Spag quickly became a favourite with fans. His portrayal of the Ulpan was seen as one of the highlights of the show and he very soon had cult following. 

In the show, Spag was the offspring of a human mother and a Balallan father, and popularised sayings such as ‘Live in Lochs and Prosper’

Every week the crew and their trusty bus, called the Staranship Western Isles Enterprise, encountered a new adventure on a distant Lewis village. The bus travelled along at a good pace thanks to the discovery of the Warp Drive in Sticky’s Mill. 

Alien villages included;

Ulpans: a village seeped in logic, grammar, correct pronunciation and speaking Gaelic in everyday situations.

The Kling-Tongs, a barbarous and warlike empire with a guttural language and few civilising graces, as likely to fall upon each other over the spoils of war as they are to attack others. 

The Rubhamulans: cousins of the Ulpans 

The Arnol-dorians: Aggressive azure humanoids with antennae stinking out of their heads…although they might actually have been rams with too much blue paint on them. 

As Captain Kirk said ‘These are the voyages of the Staranship Western Isles Enterprise, on its five year mission to Highlands and Islands Development Boardly go where no maw has gone before.’

After Staran Trek, Lionel  went on to star in a number of other BBC Alba productions. These included ‘Mission House Impossible’ as The Great Harris, an ex-magician, master of disguise and Free Presbyterian elder. In this spy series, the Mission House Impossible team would lure an unsuspecting person to the Communions, pretending they were being taken to a particular denominations Church, only for it to be later revealed that it was a totally different denomination! 

Nimoy also appeared in and directed several big budget Staran Trek movies – ‘The Wrath of Khalan-Neillidh’ and ‘The Search for Spag’. He also directed big hits like ‘3 Maws and a Baby Lamb’.

He also did a number of memorable voiceovers for films such as Transfarmers. Nimoy also loved the theatre (or Town Hall) and played Randal Macmhurachaidh in the Stornoway Thespians ‘One Flew Over Craig Dunain’ – the part later played by Jack Nicolsoninstitute in the big budget BBC Alba film.