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Feature: Doctor Who
John Barrowman brings good looks and a big dash of charm to his role as intergalactic con man Captain Jack Harkness. We talk with the newest addition to the adventures of Doctor Who.
Captain Jack Harkness is partial to a nice bottom. He’s quite smitten when Rose Tyler, hanging from a barrage balloon, drifts into his line of sight, and his binoculars zoom in where perhaps they shouldn’t. He’s also not averse to planting a kiss on the Doctor, if the situation warrants it. “He’s a 51st Century guy,” notes the Time Lord. “He’s just a bit more flexible when it comes to dancing.”
“Jack fancies both Rose and the Doctor,” says new Doctor Who companion John Barrowman. “It’s never actually said in any of the dialogue, but it’s done through innuendo and the way it’s played.
“It’s the first time that anything like that has been done in Doctor Who, but you know what? It’s the 21st Century! Some people are saying, ‘How are the kids going to deal with that?’ Kids are smarter than we make them out to be. If they want to be aware of it they will figure it out. If they don’t they will just look past it.”
Jack is introduced in The Empty Child, the ninth episode of the season, in which he saves Rose from her high altitude peril. As the story unfolds we realize Jack isn’t what he appears: he has an invisible spaceship parked alongside Big Ben, he’s a Time Agent from the future, and he’s working a con, hoping to make some quick cash out of an alien hospital ship that has landed in London during the Blitz.
Thrown into a battle against the spreading plague of gas-masked zombies, Jack becomes a fully-fledged member of the TARDIS crew at the end of The Doctor Dances. Traditionally the male companions have always existed to provide a bit of muscle and need rescuing, but Barrowman insists that Jack represents a new generation of Doctor Who assistants.
“That was last July,” he recalls. “The casting director, Andy Pryor, said there was a role perfect for me – an American, swashbuckling hero. I went to the Beeb and read on camera, and that afternoon they showed the tape to the execs and the decision was made unanimously that I was Captain Jack. I got the phone call that afternoon; I was in Covent Garden and I just about tore the street down. I was so excited.
“Afterwards Russell and I met and we all talked, and he said, ‘We haven’t written some of the stuff, but what would you like us to do?’ I said, ‘You have carte blanche – you can do anything you want. I’m not afraid to do stuff.’ So the character was basically written around me, which was amazing.”
by David Richardson
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