Head to head: John Barrowman

Do you love or loathe the actor/presenter? Two writers thrash it out


Why I love John Barrowman by Laura Pledger


Can you believe there are people out there who think there’s too much John Barrowman on TV? Who are these killjoys?

The name John Barrowman is synonymous with fun. The man’s a born entertainer – enthusiastic, funny and with a naughty streak a mile wide. His innuendoes may be cheeky but they stay just the right side of outrageous so as not to offend a family audience.

He’d blow the dials off a charisma-ometer and anyone who’s ever been to one of his live concerts will know how he lights up the stage. In his entertainment show Tonight’s the Night he forges a connection with the audience that’s effortless and immediate.

It probably helps that he first came to prominence as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who. The nation instantly took the dashing, omnisexual Time Agent to their hearts – though knowing Jack, he’d have preferred a different part of their anatomy.

He made such an impression that he was soon rewarded with his own show – Torchwood. Jack went from sidekick to leader and Barrowman rose to the challenge. The stories have become progressively darker but it’s a testament to JB’s talent that viewers buy not only happy-go-lucky Jack the Flirt but also serious-as-hell Jack the Killer.

However, it’s the cheery face of Barrowman we’re more familiar with. Recently, Capital FM listeners nominated him as the man to stop the London riots. If you’re one of those people who’d happily sacrifice him to a howling mob, I’m afraid I have to disappoint you: that’s not what the listeners had in mind. Apparently, Londoners felt having him running around in a sparkly suit, singing into a microphone, would restore the feel-good factor.

And they may have had a point. Barrowman’s more effervescent than a triple-strength Alka-Seltzer – and it’s catching. I once got some very strange looks as I sashayed down the fruit and veg aisles in Tesco when my iPod shuffled to him singing “Anything Goes”.

I’d suggest supermarkets play it over the tannoy to buck people up but such is the Barrowman effect, shoppers might soon be doing outrageous things with carrots and parsnips (not to mention each other). But, boy, it’d be fun, wouldn’t it? Which is, basically, my point.

If you’re tired of Barrowman, you’re tired of life. But I know just the man to cheer you up…

Why I hate John Barrowman by Amy Nickell

Like a boiling hot tube carriage in summer, John Barrowman on TV is irritating, unavoidable and always makes you a little bit anxious and clammy.

First of all it is necessary to address the laugh. Oh, the laugh. His big, loud laugh, a noise reminiscent of something last heard on One Born Every Minute. The source of this faux hooting usually being one his awful, equally irksome, “innuendos”, so inconclusive even his adoring audiences need a moment to pause before their brain lets them in on the joke.

It is physically impossible to be that jolly for that much time, unless you are Terry Wogan or Santa Claus, and even he has to take three quarters of the year off. I have grounding in the fact if you peel away the initial layers of St Tropez and bouncy hair, Barrowman is actually a coin-operated robot.

A robot with a broken volume gauge, perpetually cranked up far too high, probably as a result of years of stage performing, jazz hands and potential deafness (which would explain the music). A robot that will “talk Scottish” at the sight of anyone who, at any point in time, has celebrated Burns Night.

Now, you could say, “Watch something else, then!” and I have tried, but Barrowman is everywhere! The rare time John Barrowman is tolerable is when he is acting and thus handily encapsulating someone who is not John Barrowman.

However, I do believe I have found the root of all the Barrowman hostility. Simply, he just does not sit well with British culture. We have no time for all that tactile hugging, kissing and getting overexcited.

Someone really needs to have a quiet word: “Oi, Barrowman! A handshake really would do, we have enough trouble with the daily struggle of judging how many air kisses. Please put that housewife down, we don’t need your enthusiastic hands and big heart confusing centuries of entrenched British reserve.”

Finally, and possibly most importantly…no one of sound mind wants an album of musical theatre covers. Even if it is Mother’s Day and the Esso garage has run out of flowers.

There is only one thing I loathe more than John Barrowman – and that’s John Barrowman’s maniacal Beyoncé dancing:



If you are wondering where I am now, I am in a safe house bracing the impact of my incoming hate mail from the legions of Barrowman fans. Sorry, but he’s just annoying.