No, that’s not Captain Jack in the new Doctor Who pictures

Rumours of John Barrowman’s return to the BBC sci-fi series have been greatly exaggerated – or have they?

John Barrowman and Jodie Whittaker

For months rumours have swirled around that former Doctor Who star John Barrowman could be making a return to the sci-fi series, with many fans hoping for a comeback from his immortal ex-Torchwood leader Captain Jack Harkness despite the fact that Barrowman himself ruled it out quite a while ago.


And now, fans have got all excited about it again thanks to a tweet from the official Doctor Who account, which teased one of the new series’ guest-stars in a first-look picture for Jodie Whittaker’s second episode this year, The Ghost Monument.

Specifically, this is what got everyone all riled up.

And boy, did they get riled up…

But before we all go out and start selling #JackIsBack t-shirts, it should be pointed out that the real answer to the BBC’s question was staring fans in the face – because the character behind Whittaker is actually a new one played by Shaun Dooley, who we’d already seen in the same outfit during the first trailer and who has been confirmed to appear in the series’ second episode.

And if that wasn’t proof enough, Dooley himself went on to confirm that it was him in the picture and not John Barrowman, shattering the dreams of many a fan in the process.

And as the dust settled, one tweeter made a persuasive case for why it would never have been Captain Jack in the first place.

However, the story of Captain Jack and Doctor Who might not be over yet – because after all that Twitter confusion, we were just about ready to put this story to bed when we noticed one niggling detail. A new interview from Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who Magazine, where she mentions some of the unusual sci-fi terms she’s had to master in her new gig.

“I mean, out of all the things I’ve had to say, like ‘artron energy’ or ‘vortex manipulator’…all that kind of stuff is brand new to me,” Whittaker said.

“But I really practice the words that I’m not used to.”

The significance? Well, the main person in Doctor Who canon known for using a vortex manipulator is none other than….Captain Jack Harkness, who introduced the fictional technology (his main way of travelling through time) when Barrowman joined the series in 2005.

So is he making a comeback after all? Is it just his handy wrist-gadget that survived? Or is this all just a clever nod to the desperate Captain Jack fans that new showrunner Chris Chibnall (who worked extensively with the character as spin-off Torchwood’s Head Writer) slipped into new series dialogue?

Looks like this rumour isn’t going away easily after all…

Doctor Who returns to BBC1 on Sunday 7 October


This article was originally published on 21 September 2018