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24 September 2014
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Doctor Who
Billie Piper, John Barrowman and Christopher Eccleston in episode nine

Doctor Who

Press pack - phase seven

John Barrowman plays Captain Jack Harkness

The Doctor might be the last remaining Time Lord, but he meets another intergalactic time traveller when he and Rose arrive in Britain at the height of the Blitz.


The pair land the TARDIS in 1941, after chasing a mysterious spaceship, and meet dashing American serviceman Captain Jack Harkness - but he isn't quite what he seems.


"Jack is actually a Time Agent - part of a kind of space CIA - and he's trying to find two years of his memory that have disappeared," explains actor John Barrowman, who plays him.


"He's a rogue Time Agent and he knows he's done something in his past and he's not sure what it is or whether it is good or bad because his memory has been erased.


"But he's also an intergalactic conman and he starts off by trying to con The Doctor and Rose. He tries to sell them something in order to get money because that's what he does.


"He has conned a lot of people in the past. His method is to sell people things that are not what he says they are - and then once he has got the money he runs."


BBC viewers will remember John as a presenter (alongside Andi Peters and Emma Forbes) on Live and Kicking in 1993 - but more recently it is his stage career that has got him noticed.


He's starred in the musicals Chicago, Anything Goes, Sunset Boulevard, The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and The Beast, Miss Saigon and Evita and last year appeared in the film De-Lovely with Kevin Kline.


Landing a role in Doctor Who was a huge thrill for John, who was born in Glasgow but moved to America when he was nine, because he's always loved the series.


"I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who," he says. "So this is a dream job."


The killer shop window dummies The Autons returned to Doctor Who in 2005 for Christopher Eccleston's first episode as The Doctor, but it was their first appearance with Jon Pertwee in 1970 that John recalls from his childhood.


"I remember the episode when the shop dummies came alive," he says. "Mum had to hide me in her coat as we were going down Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow because I wouldn't walk past the dummies as I'd been terrified by the show a few days before!


"Later, after we moved to the United States, Doctor Who would be shown in marathon runs on Sunday evenings and I'd stay up to watch it after seeing Monty Python. It was a big part of my life and got me into sci-fi.


"When I was doing Sunset Boulevard in London, Jon Pertwee came to see the show. He'd heard that I was a fan so he came backstage afterwards and brought me a huge amount of memorabilia.


"They were things that he had that he said he didn't know what to do with and he said he wanted to give them to someone who was a big fan who would look after them. He was my first Doctor and was a lovely, down-to-earth man."


John has just returned from New York, where he has been filming the movie version of the hit Mel Brooks musical The Producers, alongside Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick and Uma Thurman.


And it seems Doctor Who is known about in Hollywood. "Uma Thurman came up to me one day and said: 'What's all this buzz about this new girl (Billie Piper) who's doing Doctor Who?' She'd heard all about the new series," says John.

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