Out actor John Barrowman is being brought to task for allegations of exposing himself to cast and crew members of the two UK series Doctor Who and Torchwood.
Barrowman initially played Captain John Harkness on Doctor Who in 2005. After the character became immensely popular, Barrowman was rewarded with the spin-off, Torchwood, which ran for 4 seasons (2006-2011).
Barrowman’s off-screen antics came to light recently after his former Doctor Who co-star, Noel Clarke, was accused by 20 women of sexual harassment.
In a video clip from a 2015 sci-fi convention discussion panel, Clarke brought up Barrowman’s penchant for exposing himself.
“Barrowman was there taking his dick out every five seconds,” says Clarke before asking costar Camille Coduri if she remembered “that time he put it (Barrowman’s penis) on your shoulder in the makeup truck?”
Clarke then bonked his handheld microphone everywhere he could as a dramatization of Barrowman’s behavior.
The Guardian spoke to several sources who confirmed the incidents but they “stressed the context was different to the sexually predatory behavior Clarke is accused of.”
The witnesses noted that Barrowman is gay, and his actions were described as “larking about” and not sexually predatory in nature.
One woman told The Guardian that 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.”
The same woman said she recalled Barrowman “slapping” his penis on the windshield of a car “thinking it was really funny.”
Another woman shared, “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.”
“It was kind of accepted that it was his thing,” she said before adding she didn’t feel “unsafe” in the scenario, but “just really uncomfortable.”
Gareth David-Lloyd – who played Ianto Jones on Torchwood – responded to the allegations in a statement to Metro:
“In my experience on Torchwood John‘s behavior on set was always meant to entertain, make people laugh and keep their spirits and energy high on what were sometimes very long working days. It maybe that because we were so close as a cast that professional lines were sometimes blurred in the excitement – I was too inexperienced to know any different but we were always laughing.”
— Digital Spy (@digitalspy) May 8, 2021
Executive producer Julie Gardner confirmed to The Guardian that she met with Barrowman over the incidents in 2008 and reprimanded him. “To my knowledge, John’s inappropriate behavior stopped thereafter,” said Gardner.
Addressing the allegations in a statement to The Guardian, Barrowman admitted to on-set “tomfoolery” but said his “high-spirited behavior” was “only ever intended in good humor to entertain colleagues on set and backstage.”
“With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behavior and I have apologized for this previously,” he added. “Since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behavior have also changed.”
Even with his apology, Barrowman’s future is a bit unclear at this point. Having joined the popular British reality competition Dancing on Ice in 2020 as a judge, a spokesperson for the network wouldn’t confirm if he would return for Season 14 set to air in January 2022.
Plus, the actor had recently returned to the Doctor Who franchise for a holiday episode. At the time, he told Entertainment Weekly he would return “at the drop of a hat.”
But since these allegations resurfaced neither Barrowman nor the show’s producers have commented as to whether the actor would be returning.
A BBC spokesperson issued a statement regarding the allegations saying:
“The BBC is against all forms of inappropriate behavior and we’re shocked to hear of these allegations. To be absolutely clear, we will investigate any specific allegations made by individuals to the BBC – and if anyone has been subjected to or witnessed inappropriate behavior of any kind we would encourage them to raise it with us directly.
“We have a zero-tolerance approach and robust processes are in place – which are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect best practice – to ensure any complaints or concerns are handled with the utmost seriousness and care.”