After months of swirling rumours and speculation, it’s official – John Barrowman’s fan-favourite Doctor Who character Captain Jack Harkness is returning for the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special, after turning up for a surprise cameo in the most recent series.


“A Doctor Who Festive Special means treats galore, and there’s no bigger treat than the return of John Barrowman to Doctor Who, for an epic and emotional feature-length episode,” Head Writer and Showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a release for Revolution of the Daleks, which is currently set to air “over the festive period”.

“If anyone can blast away the sheer rubbishness of 2020, it’s Captain Jack. Daleks beware!”

“Putting on Jack’s coat and setting foot back on the set of Doctor Who was just like going back home,” Barrowman added.

“It’s always thrilling to play Captain Jack. He’s a character very close to my heart who changed my life, and to know the fans love him as much as I do makes his return even sweeter. I hope everyone enjoys Jack’s heroic adventure with Thirteen.”

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First appearing in Doctor Who in 2005 alongside Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, Barrowman’s dashing (and immortal) Time Agent became a regular fixture in the Whoniverse, leading his own spin-off Torchwood from 2006-2011 and regularly popping up in the main series until 2010.

After Torchwood’s final TV outing, Jack was largely absent from the Who world except for the odd reference – until January 2020, when he made a surprise appearance in series 12 episode Fugitive of the Judoon.

Now, it appears that was just the appetiser for a bigger appearance in Revolution of the Daleks, where Jack will team up with the TARDIS team while the Doctor herself (Jodie Whittaker) is locked up in prison.

Doctor Who poster
Picture Shows: The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Captain Jack Harkness (JOHN BARROWMAN), Graham O’Brien (BRADLEY WALSH), Yasmin Khan (MANDIP GILL), Ryan Sinclair (TOSIN COLE), Daleks.

“After a tantalisingly brief appearance in Fugitive of the Judoon it’s a total joy and thrill to welcome back John as Captain Jack,” said Executive Producer Matt Strevens.

“One of the most iconic characters in Doctor Who lore, his presence ignites this Festive Special from the start.”

While details of the special remain top-secret, the release does suggest Jack will arrive early on to help the Doctor’s friends (Mandip Gill, Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole) “as they discover a disturbing plan forming involving one of the Doctor’s most feared and dangerous enemies, the Daleks”.

The release adds: “With the Thirteenth Doctor locked away in a space prison, will Captain Jack be able to help save planet Earth?”

Unless it’s a particularly downbeat special, we reckon they might have a good shot. And if not, well, at least fans will (probably) finally get the onscreen meeting of Whittaker’s Doctor and Captain Jack that they’ve all been waiting for. Truly, a Christmas present worth opening…


Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks comes to BBC One in late 2020/early 2021. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.