April 6-7, 2024
Written by Sarah Minazzo
Like other popular sci-fi franchises, Doctor Who has been quite innovative and relevant in its story arcs and characters. One of the more recent creations in the show’s 55-year history is that of Captain Jack Harkness played by “Supa-Star” John Barrowman.
We first meet Capt. Jack during the Nu Who series, appearing alongside the 9th Doctor played by Christopher Eccleston in The Empty Child; one of Steven Moffat’s greatest episodes, although writer Russell T Davies and Barrowman were the true creators of Capt. Jack’s character. Here we have a rare major character in Doctor Who that was a time traveller, or rather Time Agent in his natural time (51st Century), and is not Gallifreyan or a Timelord. This no longer limits time travel tech to just Gallifreyans. This would open the way to River Song in later series with the use of the vortex manipulator.
Capt. Jack is the ultimate charming con man, who goes through a story arc of redemption by being a companion to the 9th and 10th Doctors and later heads his own team in Torchwood as the reluctant mysterious immortal leader. The Doctor and he have a lot in common, characters with mysterious pasts keeping everyone around them guessing, however, Capt. Jack does have more humanity in him and is more flawed in the same way, too. Again, that was something that hadn’t been around much in Classic Who – characters who reflected the Doctor, but weren’t Timelord or Gallifreyan.
Of course, these weren’t the only reasons why Capt. Jack is such a hit. Capt. Jack’s bisexuality was groundbreaking at the time. Very few popular TV shows, let alone family shows, would ever permit the presence of such a sexual preference. Yet here was Capt. Jack, with his humanity, iconic outfit and every bit the awesome hero along with his open sexual orientation. He gave LGBTQI+ viewers a hero to look to and to identify with.
He was the first and only Nu Who character to star in his own spin-off television series, Torchwood. That is the level of response he had with audiences. Torchwood is also arguably the most successful Doctor Who spinoff series, spawning two seasons, Children Of Earth mini-series and Miracle Day mini-series. Even now, many fans continue to ask for another season and have to be satisfied with multiple books and audio plays.
John Barrowman will appear alongside Peter Capaldi and other “Supa-Stars” in Melbourne (21-22 April) and Gold Coast (28-29 April).