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Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA)

John Barrowman removed from ‘Doctor Who’ stage show after stories of inappropriate behavior resurface

This comes after a public reevaluation of Barrowman's on-set antics.

 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Published May 13, 2021   Updated May 13, 2021, 10:23 am CDT

Doctor Who actor John Barrowman has just been cut from Doctor Who: Time Fracture, a new “immersive” theatrical show. This comes after old stories resurfaced about Barrowman exposing his genitals to people working on Doctor Who and Torchwood from 2005-2008.

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Barrowman had already filmed a scene for Time Fracture, a show that combines multimedia content with live performance and audience participation. But the show’s creators chose to delete Barrowman’s character Jack Harkness in light of the actor’s increasingly controversial reputation. They announced that while Barrowman will no longer appear, “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.”

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This suggests that Barrowman’s recurring Doctor Who role may be under threat as well. First appearing in the 2005 season of Doctor Who, he went on to lead the spinoff show Torchwood, and appear in licensed audio dramas. He also returned for two episodes in 2020 and 2021; a popular choice because Jack Harkness is (or was) such a beloved character.

Barrowman’s on-set behavior was reevaluated in the wake of sexual harassment and abuse allegations leveled at his former Doctor Who co-star Noel Clarke, a major figure in the British entertainment industry. While Barrowman wasn’t accused of explicitly predatory behavior, there were numerous stories about him showing his genitals to co-workers. He (and several former Doctor Who employees) characterized this as an immature joke or prank. And it wasn’t exactly a secret. Other Doctor Who and Torchwood stars had publicly mentioned Barrowman’s behavior to the press, and he had to apologize for flashing a journalist during a radio interview in 2008.

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These stories died down after 2008, when Barrowman was officially reprimanded by a Doctor Who producer. In recent years he’s continued to be a popular figure on British TV, with no similar allegations coming out. However his earlier behavior is now being viewed in a different light.

Many Doctor Who fans were shocked to discover that Barrowman’s flashing habit was semi-public knowledge, and was treated for years as a joke rather than a serious workplace offense. While he isn’t accused of preying on his co-workers like Noel Clarke, Barrowman was protected from repercussions due to his elevated position as a celebrity. So while Barrowman views his own behavior as a harmless prank, it was still an abuse of power.


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*First Published: May 13, 2021, 6:34 am CDT