Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

I Cheated on Doctor Who

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Exclusive Torchwood Star John Barrowman Felt So Guilty After He Met The Future Time Lord

JOHN BARROWMAN feels like he's cheated on David Tennant after meeting the new Doctor Who, Matt Smith.

Glaswegian-born John, 41, who plays Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, has become friends with fellow Scot David, who is quitting as the 10th Doctor at the end of the year.

But John, who is gay, hadn't met Matt until five minutes before our interview, and was clearly a bit giddy at the chance encounter.

He laughed: "I feel like I've had an affair against David because I've met the new guy. I liked him but, David, my heart is always with you."

John was in the BBC's London HQ to chat to me about his new variety show, Tonight's The Night, and met Matt in the press office.

John said: "He walked right past me and he and I sat and had a chat. He's got some big shoes to fill when David leaves, but he'll bring his own spin to Doctor Who.

"He's very handsome, very quirky but striking. I think he'll do very well."

But he's not Scottish like David or you, I point out. John grinned: "Well, we can't be greedy and Captain Jack will still be there. We don't know yet, but the man who is now in charge, Steven Moffat (who is from Paisley), was one of the ones who created Captain Jack and he will always return to help the Doctor when he's in need."

John is chatting in his Glaswegian accent, not the American one you hear on Doctor Who or when he's a judge on the BBC1 musical talent shows with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Any Dream Will Do, I'd Do Anything and How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? Chatting to Scots, he uses his Scottish accent, although he moved from Glasgow to Illinois when he was eight. The accent may change but John's heart is in the right place and he's proud of his roots.

For the new show, he'll even wear a blue and white Saltire costume, although it will be sparkly, of course.

John hosts the six-part Tonight's The Night, which will be on our screens in the spring on Saturday nights.

It's all about revealing people's hidden performing dreams. Whether it's singing, juggling or belly-dancing, it could see you duetting with your favourite pop group or dancing in a hit West End musical.

There have been claims that it's the BBC's attempt to grab back viewers from ITV's Britain's Got Talent, but John disputes this.

"It's not a competition. There is no winner," he pointed out. "Everybody's a winner. There's noprize. It's just about dream fulfilment.

"Anyone on the show will be trained before they go on. We don't want people to look bad.

"Look, I'll be blunt. It's not there to take the p**s out of the public."

For those old enough to remember Jim'll Fix It, it's also not that. John said: "I used to watch that and shows like Opportunity Knocks growing up in Scotland. But this isn't about people writing in and saying I want to drive a bus and skid across a road. On Tonight's The Night, you'll have to drive the bus while other people will be dancing and singing, 'We're all going on a summer holiday'."

John is defensive about the project because it was his idea. The entertainment all-rounder has starred in West End musicals, presented television shows, acted, competed in Dancing On Ice and released his own music. Tonight's The Night is a bit of all that.

He said: "This has been something I've been hoping and working towards, for 20-odd years really, to bring variety and performance back on to the BBC with a modern twist.

"Having done the Andrew Lloyd Webber programmes, I know performance shows are loved. But I wanted to bring back a variety show to the BBC. That was the challenge."

He's recording a pilot, which won't be broadcast, to see how the format works. And, as a Scot, he is desperate that there will be lots of Scots in the mix.

John reckons, with Keith Jack coming second in Any Dream Will Do and Ashley Russell competing to play Nancy in I'd Do Anything, there's "an extreme amount of talent in Scotland and we need to bring it down here".

But he's not just looking for youngsters who want to be stars. He wants belly-dancing mums who haven't told their families about their secret hobby but would love to perform on television. Or it could be reuniting members of a school band. Another strand will see soldiers, firemen, nurses and police officers performing.

John said: "It's going to be full of surprises. Every week, I will do a challenge against a mystery celebrity to raise cash for charity."

It seems just like 2008, this year will see John hardly off our television screens.

Torchwood is coming back later this year and will be moved from BBC2 to BBC1. He is hoping for a new series of his CBBC show, Animals At Work. And he'll be on a 17-date tour from May, promoting his album, Music Music Music, which includes the Gary Barlow track, What About Us. He comes to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on May 14 and says the tour is "about 80 per cent sold out". At the end of the year, he plays Robin Hood in panto at the Cardiff International Arena after a very successful debut last Christmas in the all-singing, all dancing, all-ice skating show at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

But it seems John is feeling the credit crunch, just like the rest of us.

"This year, in particular, I want to keep working because it's going to be a hard one with the economy," he said.

His busy schedule has also put paid to plans to adopt a child with his architect partner Scott Gill, whom he married in a civil partnership two years ago.

Scott went to Cambodia last year and helped design and build an orphanage.

But John laughed: "Adopting is on hold at the moment unless you want to see John Barrowman with a sparkly blue and white suit and a baby hanging off his back in a rucksack."

Well, Tonight's The Night for that, John.

'Matt's very handsome, very quirky but striking. I think he'll do very well'


IF you know someone whose achievements or talents deserve to be in the spotlight, tell John Barrowman and his team now. No matter how big, small, or crazy that performing wish is, they will do their best to grant it. Email them now on or, drop a line to PO Box 60941, London, W12 2AP. This is not a talent contest with regional auditions.

GRAPHIC: TIME FOR A CHANGE: John in Captain Jack guise with old Doctor Who David Tennant, left, and the new one, Matt Smith

CARRYING THE TORCH: The cast of Torchwood, top, Jimmy Savile in Jim'll Fix It, and Bob Monkhouse in Opportunity Knocks

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  • APA 6th ed.: Fulton, Rick (2009-02-13). I Cheated on Doctor Who. Daily Record p. 27.
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