Star Trek: Voy­ager's ROBERT PI­CARDO tells Bryan Cairns about his days in the Delta Quad­rant. Please state the na­ture of the in­ter­view op­por­tu­nity...

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The doc­tor sees us now.

Robert Pi­cardo’s place in Star Trek history is as­sured. His turn as the Doc­tor – alias Emer­gency Med­i­cal Holo­gram Mark 1 – in Star Trek:

Voy­ager made him a fan favourite. He went on to reprise the role in

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and on the big screen in Star Trek: First Con­tact. Now he’s shar­ing his mem­o­ries of the fi­nal fron­tier...

Can you re­mem­ber step­ping on set for the first time?

I re­mem­ber step­ping foot on the sets and think­ing how cool the sets looked and how they had a tremen­dous re­al­ity to them. You make all the jokes about the rick­ety sci-fi sets, where the door closes and the walls shake. But Voy­ager was built like a tank. That was im­pres­sive.

Is there a prop or cos­tume you would have loved to have taken home?

It would have been great to have an au­then­tic Tri­corder. There were so many of my med­i­cal “blinkies” that were fun. “Blinkies” was the care­ful sci­en­tific term. The pro­duc­ers did let me have the Doc­tor’s smok­ing jacket from the episode where he’s writ­ing a book called “Au­thor, Au­thor”.

Is there a line of di­a­logue that stayed with you?

I re­mem­ber the first time I had huge di­a­logue re­quire­ments, since the way the char­ac­ter spoke and the way he spewed tech­nol­ogy was pretty breath­less. I think it was where Neelix loses his lungs. They were beamed out of his body by the Vidi­ians, who are this scav­enger race that steals or­gans. I have to cre­ate holo­graphic lungs un­til we can re­cover Neelix’s own lungs. That was a very tech­ni­cal episode. I do re­mem­ber in the scene where I am ex­plain­ing my­self, when Tom Paris goes to strike me and his arm wob­bles through my im­age, I say, “The mag­netic con­tain­ment field that creates the il­lu­sion of my body can be mod­i­fied to al­low mat­ter to pass through it or be stopped,” or some­thing like that. I re­mem­ber that line.

When was the last time you ac­tu­ally watched an episode?

Once in a while, es­pe­cially if it’s dubbed in an­other lan­guage, I’ll leave an episode on. The last full episode I re­mem­ber watch­ing was one of my favourites to shoot, “Tin­ker, Tenor, Doc­tor, Spy”, which is the Doc­tor’s day­dream­ing episode. It’s some of the broad­est com­edy we did.

Klin­gons or Vul­cans? Which do you pre­fer?

I’d have to say Vul­cans. I am not only a Vul­can fan, but think Tim Russ is the un­sung hero of our show. His per­for­mance as Tu­vok was ter­rific and full of dig­nity.

What has been Star Trek’s great­est con­tri­bu­tion to the world?

Its pos­i­tivism. It’s the fact that Star Trek posits a vi­sion of the fu­ture where man sur­vives, where he co­op­er­ates with other men and by ex­ten­sion, other beings and races. It’s where tech­nol­ogy el­e­vates man and does not de­stroy him. It’s that it’s pos­si­ble for hu­man­ity – that is ca­pa­ble of so much violence, de­struc­tion and homi­cide – can really rise to its best self. In fact, I think the sub­lim­i­nal mes­sage of Star Trek is that we have to rise to our best selves in or­der to sur­vive.

Do you think we will ever reach the fu­ture we see in Star Trek?

Yes, I do. We’re at a real ex­cit­ing mo­ment in real science as well as science fic­tion. The real proof of wa­ter on Mars, as well as the suc­cess of Andy Weir’s novel

The Mar­tian and the movie adap­ta­tion, has really given a jolt of in­ter­est and en­thu­si­asm in space travel.

Which bit of Trek tech would im­prove your life?

The an­swer ev­ery­one wants to give is the Holodeck. There are so many ap­pli­ca­tions for it, both ones that are PG-13 and ones that aren’t. But, I would have to say hav­ing played the Doc­tor, it would be the med­i­cal Tri­corder. The idea of a non-in­va­sive med­i­cal scan­ner that can di­ag­nose just by be­ing waved over an or­gan­ism is an ex­cit­ing break­through in medicine.

Lost in space.

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