Exclusive: John Barrowman on his shock Doctor Who TV return – “It’s about time”

Captain Jack Harkness returned to help Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor – and in an exclusive interview, actor John Barrowman reveals how he felt to bring the character back to life

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness (BBC)

In an appropriately shocking character resurrection, fan-favourite Doctor Who character Captain Jack Harkness has made a surprise return to the BBC sci-fi series, with John Barrowman’s immortal Time Agent popping up in the latest episode to deliver a message to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.

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And ahead of his TV return to Doctor Who over a decade after he last appeared in the series, RadioTimes.com exclusively spoke to Barrowman about his big comeback, which he has openly campaigned for over the last few years.

“It feels absolutely amazing,” Barrowman told RadioTimes.com. “I’ve always been holding the torch to eventually bring Jack back, because I know the love that the fanbase and the Whovians around the world have for him.

“Without giving too much of the story away, it’s the same Jack you know. He’s flirtatious, he’s sassy, he’s also determined.

“So Hallelujah – Jack is back!”

Barrowman first starred in Doctor Who’s 2005 two-parter The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, going on to appear in multiple episodes with Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant’s Doctors and becoming a fan-favourite character.

In fact, the character was popular enough to spin off into his own series in 2006, with Jack Harkness taking the lead in BBC Three’s Torchwood for four series (and various audio, comic-book and novel spin-offs) concluding with 2011’s Children of Earth, just a year after he made his final (at the time) Who appearance in The End of Time Part 2.

Now, after years of Barrowman making the case for Jack and Torchwood to return, his wish has been granted – and when we spoke to him earlier this week, the actor was ebullient about his surprise comeback.

The Doctor Dances
Billie Piper, Christopher Eccleston and John Barrowman in Doctor Who: The Doctor Dances (BBC)

“I wouldn’t say vindication is the word. I’d say that I’m glad,” Barrowman told us. “I’m really chuffed by it. Put it this way – there’s a little grin on my face!”

Kept secret through a mass of codenames, disguises and carefully-planted lies, Jack’s return is sure to make a splash with fans – just last year, RadioTimes.com readers voted him the character they’d most like to see return to the series – and ahead of the episode’s airing, Barrowman said he was prepared for a big reaction.

“They wanted to keep it fresh, but also this is probably one of the biggest returns, if I can say so myself,” Barrowman said.

“The internet is going to blow up. Because as soon as he appears onscreen… everybody in the UK’s going to tell everybody in the US, and the US is going to tell everybody in South America. Then it’s going to go to China, and then it’s going to go all over the place.

“The whole world is going to go mad. I hope – I could be wrong – but I hope that Jack is trending worldwide when it happens.”

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Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who: Fugitive of the Judoon (BBC)

Currently, Barrowman is remaining tight-lipped about what exactly Captain Jack’s return could mean for the series, and whether this cameo means we could see him again sometime soon.

But for now, we can just be happy that showrunner Chris Chibnall made the call to bring Jack back into the fold – even if Barrowman’s still not sure what specifically inspired the former Torchwood head writer to include him in the new series.

“Who knows what the decisions were and why they were made?” he said.

“But I’m glad they were made, and if I can say so personally – it’s about time.”

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Doctor Who continues on BBC One on Sundays at 7:10pm