It’s official – Captain Jack is back for the Doctor Who Christmas special, with John Barrowman’s immortal Time Agent set to join the TARDIS team in Revolution of the Daleks.
Of course, this isn’t as big a shock as it might have been. Jack Harkness already popped up once after a decade away from Doctor Who in series 12’s Fugitive of the Judoon, and fans had long suspected this could be followed by a larger onscreen return. After all, he hasn’t even met Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor yet!
But now that his festive presence has been confirmed, we have to wonder… is this just the start of Jack’s new era in the TARDIS? Does John Barrowman already have a key cut for Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff? Is Jack’s coat currently being dusted off for another adventure?
In other words…will John Barrowman and Captain Jack Harkness return once more to be a part of the now-filming Doctor Who series 13?
Certainly, in some ways it could be an obvious next step. Rumour has it that current companions Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole are departing the series, and while Mandip Gill’s Yaz is supposedly sticking around that still leaves a bit of a vacancy in the TARDIS. Rather than having to introduce an entirely new figure to the Doctor and Yaz’s dynamic, why not add a familiar face instead?
Barrowman is well-known, popular and has travelled with two Doctors before (Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant) during the revived series’ heyday. Adding him to the team today could hearken back to those glory days, while also adding a slightly different feel to the Jodie Whittaker era.
The downsides? Well, Jack’s never actually been a regular companion in the series. While he travelled with the Ninth Doctor it was only for five episodes (two of which were his introductory story), followed by two-or-three episode team-ups with the Tenth Doctor in the years following.
While Jack is fun and outrageous in Doctor Who, it could be that he works better in small doses as a splashy guest star. If he was actually part of the TARDIS crew every week, would his appeal wear out? Obviously Jack appeared regularly in his spin-off Torchwood, but that was a series without the Doctor where Jack was the star. Could Doctor Who really handle two such large personalities in the regular show?
Well, we may yet be waiting to find out. While details about series 13 are still fairly murky we do know one thing for sure – filming has just begun in South Wales, and John Barrowman is currently still in Palm Springs, California. This would certainly seem to suggest that Jack won’t be joining the cast in any regular capacity in the new series, though it doesn’t rule out his appearing in a more limited or guest star capacity (coronavirus restrictions permitting).
Perhaps more like Nicholas Courtney’s Brigadier in the classic series, Jack is forever fated to become an adjacent companion – a welcome addition to the cast and a series stalwart, but not one of the core TARDIS travellers.
Though as with much of Doctor Who, you can never say never. Who would have thought, a year or so ago, we’d have been talking about Captain Jack’s return to the series at all? Who knows what other tricks they may have up their sleeve…
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.