John Barrowman is facing a new round of cancellation after tales of him indecently exposing himself on the sets of Doctor Who and its spin-off series Torchwood were brought back into the media spotlight, despite the actor having addressed and apologized for the incidents over a decade ago.
The stories surrounding Barrowman, who portrayed Captain Jack Harkness across both series, recently resurfaced due to separate allegations of sexual harassment levelled against fellow Doctor Who star Noel Clarke.
According to The Guardian, Clarke, who played the role of Mickey Smith on the BBC’s flagship series, has been accused “of sexual harassment, unwanted touching or groping, sexually inappropriate behaviour and comments on set, professional misconduct, taking and sharing sexually explicit pictures and videos without consent, and bullying,” between 2004-2019.
In a statement provided to the news outlet, Clarke denied the accusations, asserting, “In a 20-year career, I have put inclusivity and diversity at the forefront of my work and never had a complaint made against me.”
“If anyone who has worked with me has ever felt uncomfortable or disrespected, I sincerely apologise,” he added. “I vehemently deny any sexual misconduct or wrongdoing and intend to defend myself against these false allegations.”
Clarke’s lawyers also provided a 29-page letter denying “all of the other allegations, from all 20 women” and in some cases, as reported by The Guardian, “questioning [the various accusers’] credibility.”
Following the breaking of The Guardian’s report, numerous fans and reporters began to look into Clarke’s past, presumably in pursuit of additional social or political infractions with which to further deride him with.
In the process, users unearthed an old recording of a convention panel, reportedly filmed during the 2014 Chicago Tardis Doctor Who fan convention, in which Clarke recalled how “Barrowman was there taking his d–k out every five seconds.”
Clarke then turns to ask Doctor Who co-star Camille Coduri, who played Jackie Tyler, “Do you remember that time he put it on your shoulder in the makeup truck?” Coduri answers “Yes, I do.”
As the audience erupts in laughter, Clarke then proceeds to use his microphone as a prop replica of Barrowman’s genitalia and reenacts his co-star’s behavior on stage.
“Do not try that at work,” Clarke jokes after finishing his impression. “You will be fired and possibly go to jail.”
“I feel like it’s non-threatening,” he concluded, before doing another impression comparing how a rhetorical woman would react to a straight man exposing himself to them versus how she would react to the same action from a gay man.
Yet, while “several sources” did confirm to The Guardian “that Barrowman did indeed repeatedly expose himself on set”, these same sources also stressed that “the context was different to the sexually predatory behaviour Clarke is accused of.”
These sources, who took into consideration Barrowman’s sexuality, described his actions as “larking about” and “joking.”
One woman who spoke to The Guardian, recalled how Barrowman “would get his genitals out on a regular basis.”
“He’d just sort of have his balls hanging out his trousers or something, which he just thought was really funny,” added the woman before also recounting an incident in which the actor was seen “slapping” his genitalia on the window of a car “thinking it was really funny.”
Another told the news outlet, “Sometimes he’d call me into his dressing room, and I would knock on the door and he’d say, ‘Oh, look at this’, and he’d just have his willy out, standing in the doorway,” she said. “It was kind of accepted that it was his thing.”
Though Barrowman’s behavior was seemingly an ‘accepted’ part of life on the Doctor Who set, the actor was “reprimanded” for an incident on the set of Torchwood in 2008.
“I met with John and reprimanded him,” Doctor Who executive producer Julie Gardner told The Guardian, who also met with “ other executive producers, Barrowman’s agent, and the head of BBC drama commissioning, to ‘make it clear to both John and his agent that behaviour of this kind would not be tolerated … To my knowledge, John’s inappropriate behaviour stopped thereafter.’”
That same year, Barrowman would also issue a public apology to listeners of BBC Radio 1 after he exposed himself during a live show following prompting from the hosts, who asked, “You’re famous, we’re told for getting your willy out in interviews. Is this going to happen today?”
“I apologise for any offence I have caused. I was joining in the light-hearted and fun banter of the show and went too far. I was wrong to do this and it will never happen again,” said Barrowman at the time. “I really appreciate the great support I have received from the BBC over the last few years and would never intentionally do anything to undermine the integrity of the corporation.”
Similarly, in a new apology issued to The Guardian in light of the recent attention being given to his on-set behavior, Barrowman wrote, “With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologised for this previously.”
Barrowman concluded his apology by assuring fans that “since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behaviour have also changed.”
Unsurprisingly, despite Barrowman’s apologies and the vehement clarification by those who witnessed his incidents of indecent exposure that his actions were humorous rather than predatory, the moment these stories resurfaced, the wheel of cancellation was set into motion.
Up until The Guardian’s report, Barrowman was set to appear alongside the First Doctor himself, David Bradley, in a series of recorded video appearances to be featured in the Doctor Who: Time Fracture live show, which is described as “a ground-breaking Immersive Theatrical Adventure [which] plunges you into the incredible universe of Doctor Who.”
However, these videos have since been removed, with production company Immersive Everywhere adding a section to their FAQ announcing that they had “taken the decision to remove this pre record from Doctor Who: Time Fracture.”
“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,” Immersive Everywhere’s statement concludes.
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