Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall may still save Torchwood, says John Barrowman

Barrowman, who starred as Captain Jack Harkness in the Who spin-off, says he’s spoken to the new showrunner about bringing Torchwood back to TV

John Barrowman in Doctor Who and Chris Chibnall (BBC, HF)

John Barrowman has revealed that Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood may yet have hope for a TV revival, following conversations with new Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall.

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The sci-fi drama (which ran for four series between 2006 and 2011) starred Barrowman as immortal alien investigator Captain Jack Harkness, who worked with a team of experts to protect South Wales (and sometimes the world) from alien incursion.

And since the series last aired, Barrowman has been trying his hardest to keep the flame alive, making audio dramas and comic books starring the Torchwood characters while also claiming that “certain egos” were quashing any chance of a revival behind-the-scenes.

Now, though, Barrowman says the arrival of Chris Chibnall as Doctor Who’s showrunner has changed everything – because Chibnall was heavily involved in Torchwood, making him the perfect man to unite the two series once again.

“Without going into too much detail, I actually a while back contacted Chris,” Barrowman told RadioTimes.com. “He was the Torchwood showrunner for a while.

“I was doing meetings with different production companies all around the US including the CW, and the one things out of everyone’s mouth was ‘How would we get a hold of Torchwood? To do it?’

“And I thought ‘That’s an interesting question,’ and a lot of people were asking that. ‘How can we get a hold of that brand to do it, to start making it again?’

“So I then started putting the feelers out and contacting people. And I actually wrote to Chris and I said to him, ‘Would he be interested in being a part of something like that? Or something like that, I can’t remember how the email went.’”

At the time, Chibnall’s involvement in Doctor Who was still being finalised – but his reply gave Barrowman some hope that he may have found a receptive ear to resurrecting Torchwood.

“He e-mailed me back, and he said ‘As you probably know, I’m in the middle of something very big at the moment, and I can’t discuss anything else.’

“But he said ‘Let’s talk when things calm down a bit.’ And that was just at the beginning of his negotiations for Doctor Who.”

And now, Barrowman says the ball is in Chibnall’s court when it comes to a Torchwood return, whether that be on the BBC or by allowing a US channel to make new episodes.

“Who knows?” Barrowman told us. “If anyone can do it, it’s Chris. Chris is the one who can make the decision, because it’s always the decision of the showrunner of Doctor Who.

“I was told that that’s the person who can decide about bringing back Torchwood. Or Captain Jack to Doctor Who.”

Until he can return to Torchwood’s Cardiff base, though, Barrowman has still managed to keep his hand in when it comes to Wales-set series, lending his vocal chords to a character for a new Fireman Sam TV movie.

“Yes, isn’t that funny?” Barrowman laughed at the connection between Sam’s fictional hometown of Pontypandy and Torchwood’s own Welsh roots.

“I’ve always had an affection for Wales. Maybe it’s the part of my Celtic blood that draws me back to either Wales or Scotland. Pontypandy, I would love to live in Pontypandy.

“Maybe if I had a little vacation home in Pontypandy – from a sci-fi point of view, I’d love to immerse myself in that world as a human and interact for like a weekend and see how it would go.”

In the film, called Fireman Sam: Set for Action Barrowman plays a Hollywood actor determined to sabotage Sam, after a big-shot director takes his crew to Pontypandy.

“Flex Dexter is a Hollywood star in the world of Fireman Sam,” Barrowman explained.

“He was a Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger type of action hero. His career’s moving on and he’s approached to be in this film where he doesn’t realise that he’s not the A-lister or the star – he’s the co-star. And when he finds that out it doesn’t really gel with him so he does everything he possibly can to disrupt or make things go wrong.

“He thinks if something happens to Fireman Sam, Flex himself will be able to do it,” he concluded.

We can only hope that John Barrowman’s odyssey of playing American hunks stuck in Wales is just beginning.

Fireman Sam: Set For Action airs on Cartoonito, Friday 26 October at 12.00pm

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This article was originally published on 25 October 2018