Ipswich Regent bound Doctor Who and Torchwood star John Barrowman interviewed
- Credit: Archant
Stage and screen star John Barrowman talks to entertainment writer Wayne Savage about what’s wrong with Saturday night telly, Captain Jack Harkness’ return and why he has the best fans in the world.
Whether it was battlingDaleks with The Doctor, making wishes come true on Tonight’s the Night or bringing the West End to your living room on The Sound of Musicals, one thing’s certain - Saturday night TV viewers need more Barrowman in their lives.
“I totally agree with you,” says the actor, singer, presenter and author when I mention the lack of proper variety-style family shows.
“But I don’t run the BBC or ITV, it’s other people’s decision and sometimes I feel they don’t make the right decisions as to what the public wants. Put it this way, if I had been
doing Saturday night TV in the UK I would be perfectly content and happy.
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“You know what, they didn’t ask me to come back and do it and they’ve missed their boat. I’ve been snatched up by a network on American television and I’m having a ball.”
He’s currently starring as the villainous Malcolm Merlyn in hit US show Arrow, which airs on Sky in the UK. Does this mean we’ll never see Captain Jack Harkness back in the Tardis?
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“If they asked me I would be more than happy to go back. The Arrow producers said they would allow me to go do it, but I’ve never been asked and I don’t know if I will be.
“The popularity of Captain Jack has not decreased around the world, it’s actually gotten stronger and we’re doing some audio plays that are coming out a little later this year,” Barrowman says of his iconic Doctor Who and Torchwood character.
“I have to be honest, one person who’s keeping Captain Jack alive is John Barrowman because I’m plugging him, promoting him and making sure he’s kept out there because one day he will return. Ithink they would be very silly not to bring him back.”
Barrowman would be interested to see how he’d get on with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, laughing: “I think he would look at him and say ‘oh, you’re older than me now’.”
His first full UK tour in four years, he’s excited to be back on the road, adding he’s been choreographing songs and arranging stories in his sleep. It’s to promote latest album You
Raise Me Up, which was funded through PledgeMusic’s Direct to Fan platform.
When the recession hit his record company dropped those lower on the ladder, leaving him to find a new way to make an album. As ever, his loyal fans were happy to help.
They became his producers, his record company. It turned out to be one of the best experiences he’s had.
“I didn’t just take money from them, we did little things to make it feel like we were giving back. Some got to watch the album being recorded, I had afternoon tea with some; they
had an hour of intimate questions where they could ask anything they wanted.”
Not known for his shyness, talk about asking for trouble.
“I get asked interesting questions all the time which is funny, because at the tea some people were quite reserved but I genuinely don’t hold back. That’s partly the appeal,” says
Barrowman, soaking up the sun poolside in Palm Springs when I call one dark, damp UK afternoon.
“I find it quite funny, but if somebody goes too far I say ‘I’m so impressed you have the balls to ask that question. I don’t want to answer it’. Most questions don’t throw me, I
have an answer to everything and if I don’t want to talk about it I don’t.”
There are people coming from Germany and as far as Texas to see him at the Ipswich Regent on May 26. He’s very grateful to fans for the life they’ve allowed him to have.
“They travel from all over, that’s been happening over the last five to six years. Captain Jack’s popularity in the States is absolutely massive and now Malcolm Merlyn is creating
a whole new audience and taking theDoctor Who audience who followed me into the DC world. It’s just an incredible melting pot of people who are coming to follow me and be involved with the world of John Barrowman.”
He’s very proud of You Raise Me Up, which features new arrangements of many of his favourite songs like Mandy and Bridge Over Troubled Water. Each was chosen because they meant
something to him.
“It’s gone down very well with some of the critics, not that I give a s*** what the critics think because I’m making it for the fans. The thing is, what record company would have
let me put things like A Thousand Years, then doing Skyscraper, putting a traditional Scottish folk song like Loch Lomond on there - they wouldn’t have let me do that, but because I had the freedom I was able to do what I wanted and it’s very personal.”
Barrowman, who says he had to go away for four years to live a little and collect stories to talk about, promises a great night out full of music, video, photographs, laughs and tears.
“There was a man who said he was forced to come (to the show) with his wife. When it was finished he came up to me and said ‘I thought it was all going to be musical theatre songs and showbizzy showbizzy and it wasn’t, it was really entertaining’ and that he’d come back no problem.”
You can’t say fairer than that.