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White Lies and Black Cloth: How John Kept Jack Back

The reappearance of Captain Jack turned out to be not quite the biggest reveal in Fugitive of the Judoon, but the production team nevertheless went to extreme measures to keep it quiet. But now it’s out in the open, the irrepressible John Barrowman has been free to talk a little more about the tricks they used. And it turns out that, for a man used to rocking a vortex manipulator and a tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator, they were quite charmingly low tech.

The first stage in the plan was to swear Barrowman to secrecy; a stricture he observed religiously by only telling his husband, Scott. And his mum and dad. And his sister. But that was it. Aside from Russell T Davies. But apart from his close family and RTD, he told no one. Although he did text David Tennant.

With those allowed in on the secret kept to less than a dozen people (plus their close friends and family, personal trainers, yoga instructors, and colonic irrigators), the next step was for Barrowman to formulate a cover story for his increased presence in Cardiff. To that end, Barrowman faked the renovation of his Cardiff pied-à-terre:

I felt bad but I had to think of something to throw people off the path of what I was doing in Cardiff. Because I was being seen all over the place. And people are like ‘Well what are you doing here?’ and I just said, ‘Well I’m renovating one of the properties that we have.’

As part of this charade, Barrowman posted regular messages on his social media, pretending to consult with his followers on potential colour schemes, fittings, and furniture. However, the ruse proved too successful: such was the psychological pressure involved in having to lie to strangers on social media about interior décor that Barrowman eventually cracked and began to refurbish his flat for real.

I had to really do it, because I had to show it online. It’s renovated, it’s beautiful, and it was a lie at first.

Russell? Guess what?

The news blackout and the flat refurbishment in place (Barrowman does not mention whether he revealed his casting to the teenager in B&Q who sold him some dado rail), filming could now begin. But even here, rigid secrecy was the order of the day. For example, the production team used a codename when referring to Barrowman. This codename has not been revealed for obvious security reasons but we are told that, to be extra secure, it was an anagram of Rose Tyler (DWC sources report that Barrowman’s suggested passphrase ‘Hey, I’m going to be in Doctor Who again, but it’s a secret, so don’t tell the other waiters’ was vetoed). Finally, when being driven to filming in Bristol, Barrowman was wrapped in black cloth and shrouded in umbrellas, in order not to attract attention.

But all this elaborate security was worth it in the end, as Captain Jack’s return was the major talking point of the episode all the way up to 10 minutes before it finished. Says Barrowman:

 I always want to build that excitement as much as I possibly can… I’m going to try and throw people off the path. But nobody guessed! Nobody had a clue.

Well, apart from Scott.

And Mum and Dad.


David Traynier

White Lies and Black Cloth: How John Kept Jack Back

by David Traynier time to read: 2 min
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