Northern Ireland

Leonard Nimoy: Star Trek fan Mark Stephen Hughes recalls chat with actor

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Media captionInside Ulster - 24th November 1995

A Star Trek fan from Northern Ireland who spoke to Leonard Nimoy at a convention of the cult sci-fi series has recalled his "iconic presence".

The actor who played Mr Spock has died at the age of 83 in Los Angeles.

Mark Stephen Hughes, who is originally from Newry, was among a select few who got the opportunity to speak to Nimoy via Skype at the convention in London last year.

Fittingly, he was wearing a t-shirt bearing an image of Mr Spock on Friday, when he learned of his passing.

"It is really sad, he was getting older, but everyone who is a Star Trek fan is gutted," he said.

"He was there from more or less the first episode and was an iconic presence.

"I spoke to him at a convention in London last year, he was in Los Angeles, it was for an exclusive group of Star Trek fans.

Image copyright Mark Stephen Hughes
Image caption Mark Stephen Hughes, who chatted to Leonard Nimoy last year

"I asked him about the first time he met William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk, when they were on the Man from Uncle TV series in the 1960s, he said he just remembered this really energetic young Canadian actor.

"We were in awe of him, it was on Skype, but on a huge screen, so it was very Star Trek.

"It was one of his last public appearances and we were all very honoured."

Image copyright Mark Stephen Hughes
Image caption The Newry man spoke to the Star Trek actor via Skype

Mr Hughes, who said he had met numerous members of the original Star Trek cast, including Mr Shatner, said that Nimoy contributed much more than just his acting abilities to the show.

"He was the cold steel of Star Trek and brought so much more than just his acting, he invented the Vulcan neck pinch and the live long and prosper salute.

"At times he hated the stereotype of being Spock, but he grew to love it."

Nimoy was no stranger to Northern Ireland, meeting a number of Star Trek fans in Belfast as he promoted his book in 1995.

At the time, he gave his own view on the essence of the programme's appeal.

"It is a group of professionals who are loyal to each other, who respect each other," he added.

"It is a meritocracy, whatever your shape or size, or race or religion, creed or colour, it doesn't matter, if you do the job."

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