JUST because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. That’s what I found myself thinking at the news that movie idol James Dean, who died in 1955, is ‘being brought back to life’ in a new film.

The team behind creating a virtual James Dean for Vietnam War movie Finding Jack say it’s not a one-off cameo. Travis Cloyd, chief executive of Worldwide XR, who’s leading the design on the Dean project, says it will be used “for many movies and also gaming and virtual reality”.

Legally, they can do it, having the permission of the Dean estate. But ethically, what gives them the right to effectively bring back the dead?

The cinematic trick of digital de-ageing and duplicating actors is becoming common practice. It was used in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated The Irishman so Robert De Niro and Al Pacino could play younger versions of their characters, and in last year’s Gemini Man a young Will Smith appeared alongside the current version.

But playing God with actors no longer with us must surely raise issues of the immortality and dignity of the dead.

As a cinematic device, it’s nothing new. Footage of Bela Lugosi was used in 1959 sci-fi horror film Plan 9 From Outer Space, released after his death. John Lennon and Elvis were digitally revived in 1994’s Forrest Gump. Carrie Fisher’s younger self briefly returned in Star Wars: Rogue One and she appeared digitally, after her death, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And a CGI Audrey Hepburn appeared in a chocolate bar advert.

But the planned use of a virtual James Dean across various mediums, from video games to a bio-pic, playing himself, seems particularly distasteful. Shouldn’t the dead, and their artistic integrity, rest in peace? Dean, dead at 24, is remembered as a cultural icon of teenage disillusion and social rebellion. Would he have wanted to appear as a digital avatar, controlled by techno puppet masters, in movies, games and goodness knows what else? We will never know.

For the creative team, the backlash is as inevitable as they believe the eventual acceptance will be. Travis Cloyd foresees a Hollywood where even living actors have a “digital twin” to enhance their work. “This is disruptive technology,” he said. “Some people hear it for the first time and get shaken by it. But this is where the market is going.”

It’s a moral dilemma that will be decided by the ticket-buying public. But, as Guy Williams, visual effects supervisor at Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital, says: “The question isn’t so much if you...create a digital version of them, it’s what you do with it and the respect that you show to it. That is the more important question.”

How far does it all go? This year Abba are planning a comeback world tour - as ‘Abbatars’. The Swedish supergroup are reportedly being digitally recreated as holograms, modelled on how they looked in 1979. Now, I love Abba and I’d sell a kidney to see them tour...but as holograms? No thanks. Isn’t it a bit soulless?

Whitney Houston, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Maria Callas have all been ‘re-created’ for hologram concerts, which strikes me as quite a hollow experience, and a disrespectful and creepy way to treat dead artists who once performed with great passion, soul and showmanship. I’d rather watch a living, breathing tribute act.

I think we should celebrate late, great music and movie icons for what they were in life (or in Abba’s case, a former touring life) – not their digital resurrection.

* I’VE wanted to join a book group for ages, but have struggled to find any that fit around my working hours.

So I was chuffed to hear of a new early evening one starting up. The first meeting is next month and I’ve signed up. Now all I have to do is read the book...

“Our first book is Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights,” came the email. My heart sank. It’s a book I've heard of, but it's described as a “young-adult fantasy novel, set in a parallel universe”. Fantasy novels leave me cold, and I didn’t watch the recent BBC adaptation of Pullman's His Dark Materials, so the prospect of reading this feels like homework.

But, since joining this group is about trying books beyond my literary comfort zone, I guess I’ll give it a go. Just don’t expect me to enjoy it.

* SOMEONE in PR once came up with the concept of ‘Blue Monday’, so now it's a thing. We're told this is the most depressing week of the year, because it’s the third one in January. But so what?

Feeling a bit fed up on a winter morning, especially a Monday, is just normal. We can’t expect to be happy all the time. Wouldn’t that be a bit creepy?

And who says January is depressing? We’ve had a mild winter so far, and pay day is finally on its way, so there are at least two reasons to smile. Chin up, people.