John Barrowman may currently be famous in geek culture for his portrayal of the Dark Archer Malcolm Merlyn in the Arrowverse, but that’s not the role that made him famous. Whovians know the actor best for his roles in Doctor Who, and the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood. The long-running British sci-fi series introduced us to Barrowman as the charming, roguish time-traveler Jack Harkness, before he went on to star in the spin-off. Since Torchwood ended in 2011, Barrowman moved on to Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomrrow, and began winning hearts with his convention and behind-the-scenes antics.
After a break this year, Doctor Who will be returning to our screens in 2017 for season 10 — and it sounds like Barrowman would like for Harkness to make a reappearance.
The Radio Times reports that the geek icon has a “special deal” in place to allow him to return to Doctor Who, and that he is enthusiastic about the possibility. Although his work on DC TV shows could potentially create scheduling conflicts, the star also says that his bosses at The CW are more than willing to allow him to head back to Doctor Who should the opportunity arise.
When asked if he could return, Barrowman said:
“The answer is always absolutely. It’s a show and genre that changed my life. I love it dearly and if I’m asked I would do it at the drop of a hat. And also my producers here in the US for the show I’m on at the moment, Arrow, they’ve said, ‘If that did happen, we’d let you do it’. I would love to do it, and I do know that there’s a huge fanbase.”
Jack Harkness is a relatively minor character in the Doctor Who universe, appearing in only 12 episodes over 5 years. Despite this, he quickly became a fan favorite, and as well as appearing in Torchwood, Harkness also appears in the comics, novels, webcasts and radio shows. Recently, Barrowman has talked about the possibility of Torchwood being revived. The huge fanbase would theoretically guarantee an audience, and the star has encouraged fans to buy the latest Torchwood comic to demonstrate their enthusiasm for the show. However, he has also stated that although he is attempting to bring the series back, there are “certain egos” in the way.
A return to Doctor Who could be the best option to bring the character back to the small screen — a cameo appearance wouldn’t require a full series re-launch (or the overcoming of those “egos”), and would still allow Barrowman to appear as Malcolm Merlyn on a regular basis. It would also be a huge deal for Harkness fans who have been missing the character dearly over the past five years. With the time-travelling nature of the show, it would also be fairly easy to find a way to fit Harkness into season 10 — simply by having the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) return to a time where Harkness happens to be hanging out.
However, some might see a Harkness return as unnecessary. The character has developed a complex and detailed backstory through the various spinoffs and other media, and bringing him back to Doctor Who would do little to really forward the story. This would be a clear fan-favorite return, solely to please his fanbase. The character will also be returning next year in a series of audio plays titled ‘The Lives Of Captain Jack’, so there’s always that if he doesn’t make it back to the screen.
Doctor Who will return to BBC 1 and BBC America for the 2016 Christmas special. The exact 2017 air date for season 10 has yet to be confirmed.