“I’ll just wank off Ianto”

Monday, December 3, 2007 by

Those words spoken, of course, by John Barrowman at this morning’s press launch for series two of Torchwood (TX-ing from mid January on BBC2). This was as he sat down next to Gareth David-Lloyd in the screening room. The first actual words spoken in the second series, though? Oh, go on then – “‘Scuse me, have you seen a blowfish driving a sports car?”

For those who griped about series one last year, there’ll be little to appease them here. Everyone still fancies everyone, it’s violent, glib, swaggering. I think it’s terrifically entertaining (an early scene features James Marsters dressed as Adam Ant, strolling into a nightclub telling all the people he doesn’t fancy to go home). Yes, it’s still a bit silly, but this time out – if anything – it knows that. Later on, Ianto tells Jack to search the roof of a building, commenting that he’s good on roofs. Oh, and right at the start, as the team turn up in pursuit of the aforementioned motoring fish, a witness mutters, “Bloody Torchwood” as they roll on by in the Mystery Machine.

The obvious main headline from the morning, I think, was the fact the show is going to get a pre-watershed repeat, meaning there’ll be a “clean” version in circulation sans the swearing and violence. But not the same sex snogging. That stays in. Oh, and James Marsters – who plays Jack’s former Time Agency colleague – will be returning later in the run. “I’ve found Gray,” he muttered enigmatically, as he disappeared into the rift, setting up this year’s over-arching macguffin – which Jack, of course, refused to talk about.

What else? Well, Andrew Cartmel was in attendance, although I’m guessing purely in the role of an interested onlooker.

As the morning drew on, I interviewed Eve Myles, who was effusive and fun. Gwen gets married this year! And Rhys finds out about her day (or is that night?) job! Would she appear in Doctor Who? “I’m not in the next series,” she said – the qualification piquing my interest, before Barrowman walked over and groped her tits.

Come lunchtime, it was face-to-face with the man himself. Clearly a little tired from the morning’s press activity, he seemed a tad “off-duty” and more candid than normal. Despite the previous incident, there was little innuendo here. As a result, I found him fascinating. I asked him about the slightly frosty fan reaction to series one. 

“It’s usually the fan sites that have the problem,” he said. “The public don’t have the problem. You think it would be the other way around. I don’t know what the fan sites want. We try to give them science fiction, we try to give them stories that are bizarre, we try to give them characters who do outrageous things that are off-the-wall. And when you give it to them, they’re still … I don’t know what it is. What we have to really establish is, we’re not Doctor Who. And if you’re looking forDoctor Who, you’re looking at the wrong show.” 

My pet theory is fans are alienated by the overt sexuality in the show. The original run of Who was asexual, making it comfortable viewing for – how can I put this? – those who perhaps aren’t able to express their erotic desires.

“See, I disagree with you,” said Barrowman, “because all the fans I talk to are so glad. The letters that I get, and the emails I get are people saying, ‘Thank goodness for finally representing the omni-sexuality of somebody, because it reflects how I really am!’. So I just think, to be honest, the problem comes from the people from the old school. The new school of the Whovians and the Woodies – I call ‘em – are the ones who are more savvy. The old school are from the classic series. You know what? It’s long gone! It’s a piece of history. It stands on its own. I’m a fan, I love it, I still love watching them. But the new WhoTorchwood? We’re different. You can’t compare us to the other one. And I think that’s where the problem is. Get over it!”

Anyway, I sense I’m rambling a bit now. So I’ll bring this entry to a close with a couple more snippets. Both from Barrowman. First up, he owns every bit of merchandise with his face on it (plus the bullets he shot at that Dalek back in series one). And, two, he seems genuinely unsure if he’ll do a further series of Torchwood. Not that he wants to stop playing Jack, but he seemed to have huge issues with the production of the show. 

“We’ll see how things work out, I haven’t made any decisions. If we do get the go-ahead, I’ll really have to sit down and think about it. It’s not the commitment. Honestly, this last series was a bit of a nightmare at times, because of bad scheduling. Because of production things going wrong …”


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