Happy birthday to one of Aberdeen’s most famous sons – even if Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, chief engineer of the USS Enterprise won’t be born for another 201 years.
March 3 2222 is the official birthday of the Star Trek icon, and Lord Provost Barney Crockett has called on Aberdonians to beam up with ideas to celebrate the Granite City being the future birthplace of Scotty, played by Canadian actor James Doohan.
“It is time for Aberdeen to pay tribute to one of our not-yet-born sons,” said Mr Crockett.
“Everybody loved Star Trek and we loved Scotty’s accent, we loved everything about him and it’s one of Aberdeen’s links to the film industry, so we would be really happy to celebrate his non-life.
“I think we maybe have to put our thinking caps on and get the people of Aberdeen to come up with some great ideas. We are going to be ever more a tourism spot, so let’s have a bit of Hollywood in Aberdeen.”
Set phasers to stun
This would also be a fitting year to celebrate the north-east engineer who will boldly go where no Aberdonian has gone before. It is the 55th anniversary of Doohan making his debut on the legendary science fiction show when it first aired in 1966.
Claiming Scotty as Aberdeen’s own, might have other places in Scotland setting their phasers to stun, with rival claims to being the birthplace of the engineer who kept the Enterprise at warp speed no matter how much the engines were buckling or how fast the shields were failing. In fact, Linlithgow has a plaque to that effect in their heritage museum, based on a reference in a Star Trek novel.
However, the only references to Scotty’s background in the TV series, considered canon by Star Trek fans and experts, puts him firmly in Aberdeen.
In an episode in the original series, Wolf In The Fold, Scotty refers to himself as an “old Aberdeen pub-crawler”. He also reminisces about the “marvellous fogs we have in Aberdeen”.
Mr Crockett said: “I think we go by the authentic screen version and Aberdeen is much more likely a place for Scotty to come from than the spires of Linlithgow. He would be doing pub crawls in the harbour of Aberdeen as I did. In fact, I think he must be born in the same part of the harbour as me, because I remember the fogs well, too.”
‘I gave Scotty an Aberdeen accent’
Compelling evidence for Scotty belonging to the Granite City comes from Doohan himself… who said in an interview before his death in 2005 that he based Scotty’s accent on an Aberdonian he met.
“I gave Scotty an Aberdeen accent and I learned that when I was sent over to Catterick camp in England during World War Two,” said the actor, who served as a captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery and was wounded while he was leading his troops in the D-Day invasion.
“While I was there, I met this fellow from Aberdeen – and I couldn’t understand a word he said! But I learned that accent from him and that was the one I used for Scotty. Scotty is 99% James Doohan and 1% accent.”
Shortly after Doohan’s death, several experts – including Star Trek’s official archivist and historian, Richard Arnold – confirmed the series’ canonical references put Scotty firmly in Aberdeen.
Throughout Star Trek, Scotty’s Scottishness was front-and-centre. His ceremonial Star Fleet uniform included a kilt in the Scott tartan, he drank whisky and he played the bagpipes – most notably as the body of Spock was committed to space in the film, Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan.
He was famous for his lilting cry of “captain…the engines cannae take it” and some phrases yet to enter the Scottish lexicon, such as “that’ll put the haggis in the fire” – but there’s still 201 years for us to start using that one.
Scotty is an inspiring character
The actor recalled when he auditioned for the role he tried out several different accents for Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry – including his Scottish one.
Doohan said: “He asked me which one I liked the most. I said, ‘well, if you want an engineer, he’d better be a Scotsman because, in my experience, all the world’s best engineers have been Scottish’.”
And so a legend was born, as Scotty took to the stars with Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and Dr McCoy, becoming one of the most-loved characters on the show. Doohan played the character throughout the original series and the Star Trek movies and reprised the role for an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
He even inspired the show’s most famous catchphrase “Beam me up, Scotty” – although that exact phrase was never used in the TV series.
Now, Aberdeen’s Lord Provost believes it’s time to go to warp speed in commemorating Aberdeen’s links with Scotty and Star Trek.
Mr Crockett said: “He is quite an inspiring character. He’s the one that holds it all together. Again, one of the things about Aberdeen’s profile is that we are the people who do a lot of the hard work, all over the world, in some of less noticed aspects. I think that’s one of the selling points of the city. We are the folk who will go to the difficult places and do difficult things for just reward.”