John Barrowman’s recent return to the Who-verse may have hit pause — at least on the interactive side of things. After reportedly planning a pre-recorded segment for the soon-to-open Doctor Who: Time Fracture interactive exhibit in the UK, Barrowman’s contribution to the project appears to have been dropped from the “immersive experience” by BBC.
So far, the network has offered no official reason for making the move. A recent report in the Guardian cites sources who allege that Barrowman made inappropriate sexual gestures on the sets of both Doctor Who and Torchwood in the mid-2000s. That report comes on the heels of a viral YouTube video first circulated in April; one recorded at a 2014 fan event at which Doctor Who actor Noel Clarke characterized his and Barrowman’s on-set behavior as well-intentioned pranking.
SYFY WIRE has reached out to BBC and to Barrowman’s management.
First appearing as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and later in Torchwood, Barrowman reportedly was set to reprise his popular role in Doctor Who: Time Fracture, a “ground-breaking Immersive Theatrical Adventure” that “plunges you into the incredible universe of Doctor Who,” according to the attraction’s website. Following opening delays related to COVID-19, Time Fracture — a co-production of interactive entertainment company Immersive Everywhere and BBC — reportedly is set to open in London later this month.
But clicking through the site’s FAQ section reveals that Barrowman, who’s begun turning up with more frequency in Doctor Who productions of late, appears no longer to be involved in the project. “Immersive Everywhere have taken the decision to remove this pre record from Doctor Who: Time Fracture,” states an FAQ heading devoted to Harkness’ characterization in the project. “We will continue to include content that pays tribute to this brilliant show that is Torchwood so as not to disappoint its fans, and are working on an exciting storyline to be announced soon.”
Recent media attention on Barrowman’s alleged involvement in past Doctor Who set improprieties comes in the wake of broader allegations against Clarke, with whom the BBC severed ties after “the Guardian published testimony from 20 women who variously accused him of groping, sexual harassment and bullying,” according to the outlet's own reporting. In the same report, the Guardian notes that Clarke “vehemently denies any allegations of sexual misconduct, criminal wrongdoing or sexually inappropriate behavior.”
Though Barrowman’s Doctor Who popularity was forged from his first series appearance in 2005 and further cemented by his recurring role in Torchwood, his portrayal of Harkness has been enjoying something of a franchise resurgence since last year. He reprised the part by showing up in 2020 in the “Fugitive of the Judoon” episode of Series 12 of Doctor Who, and went on to star alongside Jodie Whittaker in the “Revolution of the Daleks” New Year’s Day special earlier this year. Barrowman also has voiced the character of Captain Jack Harkness for the BBC-licensed audio dramas of Doctor Who and Torchwood from audio book producer Big Finish.