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John Barrowman makes surprise return to Doctor Who

The actor reprised the role of Captain Jack Harkness.


John Barrowman (Ian West/PA)

John Barrowman (Ian West/PA)

John Barrowman (Ian West/PA)

John Barrowman told of his pride at playing a Doctor Who character who “changed the face of television” as he made a surprise return to the role.

The actor starred as Captain Jack Harkness – the first openly non-heterosexual character in Doctor Who – between 2005 and 2010, and also led its spin-off, Torchwood, until 2011.

He made a surprise return to the part in Sunday night’s instalment of the BBC sci-fi series.

Barrowman said it was “brilliant being back on set”, adding: “My favourite thing about being part of Doctor Who is playing a character that changed the face of television.

“Also, because I was the first openly gay man to play an omnisexual hero on television and nobody cared – in a good way, no one made an issue out of it.

“Some of the young people who watched Doctor Who and are now in their 20s said, ‘Because of Captain Jack, I was able to be honest with myself and truthful to my family about who I was,’ and that to me is the biggest gift that we can give as people who are in the industry.”

Barrowman said he first heard of the opportunity to return when he got a call from writer and producer Chris Chibnall.

He said: “I just started jumping around on the street and said, ‘This is the most brilliant news I have heard.’

“When I finished the call with Chris, I immediately called Russell T Davies because Russell was partial to Captain Jack’s creation, so I called him and he said, ‘That’s awesome!’


John Barrowman (Matt Crossick/PA)

John Barrowman (Matt Crossick/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

John Barrowman (Matt Crossick/PA)

“We had a big scream and he said, ‘Hurrah! Captain Jack is back!”

The star had to keep the secret for some time, which involved a lot of “decoys”.

He said: “This is what’s funny, when I came back to Cardiff to do the filming I had to find an excuse in order to throw people off. So I started doing videos online about renovating my flat in Cardiff, and funnily enough, I actually did do the renovations but it was all to throw off why I was really there.

“I was being driven into Bristol, where we were filming at a Cathedral, I was covered in black cloth in the car, when I got to set I was taken out of the car with umbrellas around me so nobody could see.”

If they ask me to come back, I always say this - I will be back at the drop of a hatJohn Barrowman

“Nobody actually cottoned on to it as I was very committed to the decoys that I was putting out there,” he said.

The actor, who is currently a judge on Dancing On Ice, said he did not know if Captain Jack would return again, but teased: “If they ask me to come back, I always say this – I will be back at the drop of a hat.”