John Barrowman became an instant hit with Doctor Who fans when he made his debut as the charismatic Captain Jack Harkness in 2005. The character’s popularity saw him become a regular part of the BBC series, with the actor later taking centre stage in the successful spin-off series Torchwood.
Russell T Davies was calling the shots in the Whoniverse at the time and spearheaded the vast majority of Captain Jack’s biggest and best adventures. Now, the showrunner is returning to Doctor Who with a series of specials and a new season which looks set to put Ncuti Gatwa front and centre as the Fifteenth Doctor.
We recently spoke with John about his upcoming appearance at FAN EXPO San Francisco and asked for his thoughts on both Davies’ Doctor Who return and what he believes Gatwa will bring to the table as the franchise’s first diverse, openly queer, lead (check back here tomorrow for the full interview).
“Russell has always been passionate about Doctor Who for a very, very long time. We all know that. During our tenure – David and I like to call it ‘The Golden Age’ – [Laughs] Russell was breaking all the ground rules and barries at that time, anyway. Ncuti, I think, will be absolutely wonderful and should bring a different dynamic and energy to it. The excitement will still be there obviously and I’ve always said to the fan-family, in particular when a lot of changes happen with Doctor Who, everyone will be like, ‘Blah, blah, blah,’ but you know what, we go on the journey in the TARDIS for what that and the Doctor stands for and the excitement it’s going to take us on”
“The lesson we should have learned from the Doctor is it’s not always what they look like, but what’s in those hearts that we fall in love with. Russell has always been the one to break the ground rules and barriers and I remember him saying a long, long time ago, that he’d love to have a character played by a transgender person playing a trans person on the show. He’s doing what he said he always wanted to do. Even with Captain Jack, that was groundbreaking at the time. He’s going to have another realm to be groundbreaking in, opening up more doors, and rightly so. Some people might get upset by it, but you know what, change has to happen.”
As for whether the actor believes he could suit up Captain Jack again, he admitted that, while his future with the iconic sci-fi franchise is uncertain, he’ll always be a supporter of a show he’s loved since childhood.
“I don’t know! I’ve always said this: if I’m asked back, I will do it at the drop of a hat because I love the show. I love Torchwood, Captain Jack, and Doctor Who. I’ve loved it since I was five years old and my first episode, that I watched, was the Autons with John Pertwee and my mother had to hide me under her coat when I walked in front of a store window because I thought the mannequins were going to attack me. When I was signed on for Doctor Who with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper and I wasn’t allowed to say anything because I signed at the same time they did, when I saw the first episode was about the Autons, I knew my life was about to change. I knew I was on to something. That’s why, again, if I’m asked to come back…Captain Jack, Torchwood, and Doctor Who were life-changing for me. I would never ever, ever turn my back on them.”
If you’ve reached this point, then chances are you’re also a Torchwood fan. In the video above (at the 14:34 mark), you can hear from John on that show’s legacy and whether he’s ever surprised by the outpouring of love it still gets years after concluding.
Captain Jack clearly means a great deal to him, this weekend, John will be among those attending FAN EXPO San Francisco, Northern California’s largest pop culture convention (other guests include Star Wars icons Mark Hamill and Ewan McGregor).
Tickets are now on sale for the event which runs from Friday, November 24 to Sunday, November 26 at the Moscone Center West, and John will be on hand to take photos with fans. He’ll also be hosting an “Adventures with John Barrowman” panel on Saturday; you can learn more about how to meet him by clicking here.
You can find also John Barrowman on Instagram @johnscotbarrowman and on Twitter/X @JohnBarrowman. Head to Fan EXPO’s website now to get your tickets for this weekend’s show!