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All right Jack

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John Barrowman filmed his sci-fi spin-off Torchwood side by side with the Tardis-travelling adventures of Doctor Who. STEVE PRATT reports on the return of Captain Jack

CAPTAIN Jack Harkness was last seen stranded on a satellite many thousands of the years in the future after facing a Dalek invasion to protect his new friends, Doctor Who and Rose. The dashing captain's fate was unknown - until the BBC decided to give him his own series.

Jack's back in Russell T Davies's new series Torchwood, billed as a "dark and sexy sci-fi thriller" which would seem to cover a multitude of sins. No one's more pleased than longtime Doctor Who fan John Barrowman, as the leather trouser-wearing Time Agent from the 51st century who leads Torchwood, an elite, alien-fighting organisation protecting the human race.

"He heads up a team of secret agents who are separate from the Government, outside police jurisdiction and beyond the United Nations," explains Barrowman, who was born in Glasgow but moved to Illinois with his family at the age of eight. "At Torchwood, they answer to no one but themselves. Jack's the leader and the glue - he keeps everyone together. He's the hero, although I don't think he'd call himself a hero, he'd just call himself a man who does the job because it needs doing.

"He's been changed by the journey from his terrifying Dalek encounter to 21st century Cardiff, home of the Hub, Torchwood's top secret HQ. Jack, says the actor, is a little bit darker and angrier than when we last saw him. He doesn't always consider other people's feelings, with his priority the good of the world. Some things don't change. "He's still fun, he still has his dry sense of humour and I think he's still sexy, " says Barrowman. That means he makes a move on everyone and, apparently, everything. "It doesn't have to have a pulse for Jack to fancy it. And if its got a zip code, he'll sleep with it," he adds.

As a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, he was thrilled when talk of giving Captain Jack his own series began. "I was completely bowled over," says Barrowman. "It was a childhood dream to be a character in Doctor Who, so to have my own series was just unimaginable. I'm a grown man who gets to go to work every day and fight aliens, play with guns and kiss beautiful people. What more could I ask for?

"Torchwood is located on a rift in time and space in modern-day Cardiff. Jack's not a time traveller and can only travel through time with the assistance of someone like the Doctor. "Now Cardiff has this rift in it and so it's one of the places the Tardis is likely to return to, so Jack is just waiting. He never leaves, he never sleeps," says Barrowman. Newcomer to the team Gwen is the only one that Captain Jack confides in, but even they have their disagreements. "Every now and then there are major in-house battles, " he says. "There are always tensions bubbling away because they're facing life or death situations every day. Sometimes Jack gets very angry because the team don't understand why he's doing what he's doing. But Jack has seen the Earth's future and he knows that the 21st century is when it all changes, and they've got to be ready.

"The Weevils are one freaky bunch of aliens. And every once in a while a Weevil goes rogue and attacks. That's when we have to step in because they can be mighty vicious.

"Barrowman got his big chance over here after seeing there was an open audition for a London West End production of the musical Anything Goes during a visit to the UK in 1989. He won a starring role, and has since appeared in hit musicals including Miss Saigon, Phantom Of The Opera and Sunset Boulevard. He skated in the celeb reality show Dancing On Ice and was recently seen as a judge on BBC1's How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? Torchwood means he's moved to Cardiff, where the series is filmed. He's bought a house overlooking the bay, which he shares with his partner, architect Scott Gill, and their two cocker spaniels, Penny and Lewis.

He and Scott are planning to formalise their 13-year relationship with a civil partnership in the city later this year. "All my family are coming over from the US to celebrate with us in December. It'll be a family thing, it won't be a Posh and Becks wedding, " he says. He's also hoping to give his family a guided tour of the state-of-the-art BBC studio complex where Torchwood is filmed. Doctor Who is made there too, with the Tardis and the Hub right next to each other.

"The only thing that separates us is a curtain," he says. "We all arrive at work and go off to our separate areas and then we have a big shared lunch place. So you might sit down with your salad next to a Weevil or share a pizza with a Dalek. That's pretty normal for us."

Torchwood is on BBC3 on Sunday, at 9pm, and repeated on BBC2 on Wednesday, 9pm

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  • APA 6th ed.: Pratt, Steve (2006-10-19). All right Jack. The Northern Echo .
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