William Shatner as mark twain

The Television Critics association winter press tour began today with panels from Ovation. One of Ovation’s series is The Artful Detective, the American airing of the Canadian detective series Murdoch Mysteries. They announced a major guest star this season, William Shatner, and showed us a clip of the Captain Kirk actor playing an American legend.

An announcement is made to a crowd of Brits that Mark Twain has arrived to speak. The crowd boos, and it’s up to William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) to introduce Twain. Out steps grey haired William Shatner with a grey moustache. He’s booed and his drink smashed by a thrown object before he’s able to speak.

William Murdoch is a detective in 1903 Toronto, so occasionally runs across historical figures in his mysteries. Though Twain didn’t get to speak before the hostile crowd, he and Murdoch comiserated and we heard Shatner’s unmistakable cadence affected with a turn of the century American accent.

Speaking on the panel, Bisson explained how he played a role in the casting of Shatner, on Twitter no less. Anyone who follows @WilliamShatner knows how active he is on social media.

“I follow Bill Shatner on Twitter,” Bisson said. “Somebody directed a question at me: when are you going to have Bill Shatner on Murdoch? I tagged him and retweeted it. He actually sent back this: ‘*shoulder shrug* don’t know.’ So I saw the door was possibly open there. I immediately e-mailed [executive producer ] Christina [Jennings] and everybody else and said we’ve got to do this. He was open to doing this.”

Jennings added that Shatner is not the first celebrity who reached out to Murdoch Mysteries/The Artful Detective on Twitter.

“This is the second time it’s happened,” Jennings said. “The first time was Margaret Atwood, the novelist, sent out a tweet that said: What does a girl have to do to get on Murdoch Mysteries? That’s how WIlliam Shatner came about, through a tweet.”

The Artful Detective returns January 23 at 7PM on Ovation. Tweet @yannick_Bisson or @CJShaftesbury to suggest other guest star casting on Murdoch Mysteries/The Artful Detective!

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