The Dominic Effect

SFX article from August 2004. See the pictures HERE.


Stuffy uptight Brit, camp convention queen or EastEnd hardnut – who’s the real Dominic Keating?

Ian Berriman questions the Enterprise star.

“I can see your thong!”

Dominic Keating couldn’t be less like his TV alter-ego, Enterprise's Armoury Officer, Malcolm Reed. One can’t imagine stuffy Malcolm embarrassing our photographer by pointing out that, as she bends over her laptop, her pants are poking out. “It’s not deliberate!” protests Katharine, flustered. Keating snots in mock disbelief: “Yeah, you and 10,000 other women in London . . .”

Off screen, on stage or one-to-one, this self-confessed “convention queen” is a livewire, switching personas to entertain his audience – even if it’s only an audience of two or three. One minute he’s pursed-lipped and camp as he recalls horsing around on set: “I was late for a cue one time, and it was: ‘Where were you?’ ‘So sorry, Captain, I was just thinking about new curtains of the ready room!”

Next minute, he’s venting his spleen about Californian surf dudes who object to him stealing their waves. “Given that they’re meant to be all Zen, they can be real bastards!” Keating flips into Vinnie Jones mode, showing how he could scare ‘em off with British grit. “Fuck off, ya bastards!” he snarls, like some EastEnd pitbull. Eyes popping, fists clenched, a vein standing out in his neck, he spits, “ ‘Ave it!”

He has every reason to be ebullient. As we speak it’s only a few weeks since the dark cloud of cancellation was lifted and he found out that he still has a job.

“Thank God for that! There was a time about two thirds of the way through the season, where …” Keating sights wearily. “ …I wasn’t enjoying going to work. As well as being the cast’s convention queen I am the worrywart. In some respects I managed to just let go. Towards the end of the run up to whether we were gonna get picked up I really was resigned to the fact this might be it.”

What fans forget while we fret about abstract matters like “the continuation of the Trek universe”, is that for actors like Keating it’s all about harsh economic realities. “When I got told that this was a seven year gig I kind of believed that is was seven year gig. Suddenly it was looking like it was gonna be a three year gig – and I’ve got a seven year gig house!” Keating laughs bleakly. “I was hoping that I haven’t overstepped my financial mark.”

Keating was “fairly confident” of renewal, since a fourth season ensures a decent package of episodes to sell into syndication. “Politics can really get in the way of production and I think there were some politics. But I couldn’t see a group of studio and network executives having invested all that money in our sets and the cast, not going the extra mile to get the syndication year.”

You’d expect him to be elated about Enterprise's renewal. Instead he’s treating it as a stay of execution.

“We’re gonna be doing 22 episodes, which will give them 98 episodes, which I figure they figure is enough to syndicate. Which kinda leads you onto going … ‘Well, y’know…’ “ Keating clicks his fingers. “ ‘That’ll be that.’ And I’m banking, monetarily, that that’s what’s gonna happen.”

It makes sense for him to assume the worst and hope to be pleasantly surprised. All the same, it’s faintly depressing. I half-jokingly ask Keating whether he's been considering getting a smaller house. When he answers earnestly, I can picture him laying out the bills and doing his sums.

“I’m clever with the cash, always have been. I’ve done the math in my head and I reckon I can keep my life pretty much as it Is, as long as I don’t go Champagne Charlie.”

Ah well. If season four is Enterprise’s last, at least it might go out in a blaze of glory. Trek overlords Braga and Berman are stepping back to develop other projects. Enterprise writer Manny Coto is taking over the day-to-day running of the show. The qualities Keating admires in Coto are intelligence and a determined self-assurance.

“I remember ringing him up about a couple of scenes I had in his first episode. The other writers are much more open to my rather emphatic suggestions about changing my words or the tone of the scene, but I remember Manny not being so open and actually having a bloody good argument why it should stay the same.”

What, did he bark, “Just read the fucking lines, Keating!” down the phone? Keating laughs.

“It’s wasn’t quite that blunt! But I realized that this guy was no walkover and he really thought about what he’d written. I remember putting the phone down and going ‘hmph … okay.’ ” So that was your sex scene with T’Pol … “…nixed!”, Keating cackles mischievously. “That’s what happened! If it happens, I’m wearing the catsuit!”

Keating is pleased with the third season, which he considers an improvement. “I think 95% of it was damn good. In the first two seasons we might have been accused of turning in two clunkers and three okay-eys.”

Considering how many episode the production team churns out – 26 a year initially, 24 last year – maintaining a high standard is tough.

“For me 26 is a good number because it’s 26 episode fees and 26 repeat fees!” he grins. “But for the writers, the production and the crew… it’s grueling, man! That crew works 80-85 hours a week most weeks – that’s a lot of hours.”

Keating’s grin fades as he remembers the death of one of Enterprise’s first assistant directors. “Dear Jerry Fleck – God bless him – passed away, just coming up to retirement. My heart goes out to his wife and his family, it was a terrible time. I have to say I think the workload contributed.” Keating shakes his head. “Y’know, the poor man suffered from hypertension and, er . . .” He trails off.

Suddently I feel lousy for every snippy review we’ve ever printed. The Enterprise production is flogging its guts out, and we moan if every episode isn’t 24-carat gold.

Changing tack , I ask what it’s like being the only Brit in the cast. He responds with a wry self-deprecation.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I only to token! I was the token honky in Desmond’s [the 90’s black sitcom], show. I wanna be the straight guy in a gay play next!”

Nowadays Malcolm seems to have loosened up, but to begin with, he was more of a repressed bug-up-his-ass Brit.

“That’s what they wrote! The three-line bio that they gave him was ‘buttoned-down Brit, shy around woman, very much a jobsworthy man’. Let’s talk plainly: it’s an hour-long science fiction show and you’ve got American writing for a British part. I think they did a pretty good job. There’s a dialogue that goes on. I make my notes and by and large the writers are receptive. I ring them up and go, ‘You know what? This is hokey.’ I mean… I don’t know if they ever wrote the word ‘bloke’, but they’ll write something like ‘bleemy, blimey, blonky’ – the 1930s stuff!”

What, like, “Cor blimey, the hull plating is down 25%”?

“Yeah, exactly! So I push them gently into a more realistic approach. The other process that goes on is: actors want to ‘act’, and by and large they don’t have to. This is something I’ve learned on this job. Malcolm Reed is not Dominic Keating, but where I feel comfortable that it’s not gonna leap out you, I nudge Dominic in there, rather than just playing it within the box of those three lines that they first wrote. Y’know, let’s step out of the box; let’s make him a little idiosyncratic, a bit more enigmatic, not as predictable. I used to think if it didn’t fit the proviso of the three-line box I wasn’t acting the character correctly, and that was a mistake on my behalf. I feel a lot more comfortable sprinkling Dominic over Malcolm and the two come together and there’s a … goulash of a performance!”

As the solitary Brit on-set, does he get picked on?

“Not as much as I did on Desmond’s – they used to play ‘fuck of the white boy’ on Desmond’s.” Keating roars with laughter. “They don’t play ‘fuck the Brit’ on Star Trek! Robbie Gee and Geff Francis, they’d look at me queer on the set and go, ‘It’s time to fuck the white boy’ “ He fakes a distraught sob. “They were mean to me, man!”

Keating’s been in LA for ten years now, and says he’s become pretty Americanised.

“You capitulate. I say ‘sidewalk’ and ‘hood’ and ‘trunk’ and I say ‘water’ the American way at a restaurant because if you say ‘water’ in a British way it’s gonna take you another 20 seconds. I’m all about speed, honey!

“It’s funny coming home. You have dinner with English friends and they’ll ask these stereotypical questions about their preconceived ideas of Americans and Los Angeles, and you know what? It’s just another big city. Once you get past the veneer of cultural difference people are people mate, the world over. So I haven’t got that axe to grind. I love Americans in LA. I love Londoners in London and I feel blessed that I’ve got this bi-city life.”

Let’s hope that Keating’s intuition about the end being nigh for Enterprise is wrong; that he’ll be able to carry on living that blessed lifestyle for the full seven years.

”I like working and I really love going through the gates of Paramount, and I’ld like to do the full stint. I ain’t done with the experience!”



Feedback? Comments? Thanks! Drop us a few lines:


A whole mess of folks have made comments

rofl! loved that specially the : I wanna be the straight guy in a gay play next! : bit

Thanx 4 posting it, n the piccies *thud*

*hits submit from place on floor*

ok, i just have to ask this--what the hell do they call a sidewalk in England? Great article, btw!

its called a pavement, i think it stems from when we used to have paving stones, still do in some places.

Though i have to admit all the american TV i watch has me calling it a sidewalk which gets a few funny looks from my m8s.

Basically English say pavement / Americans say Sidewalk.

Ah, thanks for the language lesson. Pavement in America refers to an asphalt-paved ground, like a parking lot or a road. I just find it interesting how people who speak the same language can use the same words, but sometimes those words can have a completely different meaning, whether it be on a national or regional scale.
LOL! Watching Malcolm every week & reading fanfiction featuring him has got me saying "bloody" half the time now.

having a T/M obsession i'm always saying 'bloody' and 'hell' though rarely do i say 'bloody hell'

I think language differences r amazing, so wats the way americans say 'water' in a restaurant?

ps. useless quote for the day: "Start the day with a smile, and get it over with"

no reply?


To Neo Getz: Sorry, I haven't replied--I haven't been to the site in a little while. I know, shame on me!!!
I was really wondering myself about the water bit in the article--I've always pronounced it just as it's spelled. I believe that's how most Americans would say it, except maybe in Boston or NYC. Then again, I live in Connecticut (in New England) where we talk "normally" & really don't have a distinguishing accent. Of course, when I visit other parts of the country, like the South, I'm the one with the accent then! So how do the British say water? I would imagine that it would be pretty much the same. Maybe it's a regional thing.
One funny thing about where I live is that British spelling is sometimes still used in New England, so for me it's not odd to see things spelled differently like "armoury" vs. "armory" So, where are you from anyway? I've been assuming England, but I could be mistaken.
Sorry this is so long!

i'm from england, yeh.

i always though armoury had a u in it, n ure probly right it might b regional.

water spounds ay funny up in yorkshire.



anytime! nice chatting with you!

same 2 u




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