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John Barrowman - though you might not guess it from the accent - was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1967. He moved with his family to Illinois, America when he was nine. Barrowman is best known for his appearances in Dr Who and Torchwood as Captain Jack Harkness. If you’re a fan of Desperate Housewives you may also have seen him guesting in a few episodes as Patrick Logan, a man who seems charming on the surface but has a darkly sinister streak...
Barrowman is an all-round entertainer – acting, dancing, presenting, singing - a natural showman. He studied Musical Theatre and went on to appear in musicals including Miss Saigon, Sunset Boulevard and The Phantom of the Opera. Barrowman won the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special in 2010, performing a brilliant quickstep with his dance partner – professional dancer Kristina Rihanoff.
I have sometimes thought John Barrowman arrogant and/or irritating – he has a confidence, a self-belief that radiates from him – perfect for the character of Captain Jack. Another part of real life that mirrors his character is his sexuality – Barrowman is in a long-term relationship with partner Scott Gill; Captain Jack is bisexual. Barrowman is a savvy performer who has ridden the crest of the wave of fame that Dr Who and Torchwood have given him. He has popped up a lot on TV – in game shows, breakfast shows, presenting his own shows, judging talent contests, fronting the National Lottery draw... He has promoted his singing career through guest appearances and concert tours. In 2008 he hosted Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 60th Birthday event in Hyde Park – a feast of famous faces and songs.
Barrowman’s appearance as the immortal Captain Jack in Dr Who proved enough of a hit for him to lead the spin-off series Torchwood - a flagship drama for the new channel BBC3 - the first series was broadcast in 2006. The series, broadcast after the 9.00pm “watershed”, was aimed at an older audience than Dr Who, with more adult content and themes. Captain Jack heads a unit – Torchwood - that investigates mysterious alien happenings. Torchwood gradually moved up the pecking order with the BBC, moving to BBC2 for the second series and BBC1 for the shorter third series – Children of Earth. The series finale could have been a final ending, with several characters killed off. Yet Series Four – Torchwood: Miracle Day – a US/UK co-production - has risen from the ashes. Whilst I find the premise – that everybody on earth stops dying – fascinating, I find Miracle Day more violent/graphic and less subtle than previous Torchwood series. It is, however, a great transatlantic platform for Barrowman who, like his alter ego Captain Jack, may live forever.
Torchwood Complete Series Seasons 1, 2 & 3 [Blu-Ray]
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