Accused of 'Sexually Predatory Behaviour,' 'Torchwood' Star John Barrowman Calls It 'Tomfoolery'

Wednesday May 12, 2021

John Barrowman in a promotional photo for "Dancing on Ice"
John Barrowman in a promotional photo for "Dancing on Ice"  (Source:ITV)

Out actor John Barrowman joins "Dr. Who" cast mate Noel Clarke in accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior. "Another 'Doctor Who' actor, John Barrowman, has also been accused of repeatedly exposing himself to co-workers on two BBC productions, prompting questions about whether the corporation allowed a lax culture on its sets during the mid-2000s," reported The Guardian.

"Barrowman, who played the character of Capt Jack Harkness in 'Doctor Who' and its spin-off show 'Torchwood,' is accused of exposing himself repeatedly on both sets, although numerous witnesses described the incidents as inappropriate pranks rather than anything amounting to sexually predatory behaviour," the Guardian report continued.

Barrowman described his behavior to the Guardian as "tomfoolery" and regretted that he upset colleagues, but said it was never meant to be "sexual in nature." Amongst the accusations are this one, reported by Digital Spy, that took place on the "Torchwood" set: "One crew member, who was a runner and driver for the BBC programme, said: 'He'd just sort of have his balls hanging out his trousers or something, which he just thought was really funny.' "

It was Clarke who unwittingly put Barrowman's behavior in the spotlight when a video from 2014 from the American sci-fi convention called Chicago Tardis began circulating that features Clarke talking "about how his fellow 'Doctor Who' star Barrowman would often expose his penis and 'slap' it on colleagues," wrote the Guardian.

Note: Clarke's comments come at the start of the clip.

"Barrowman was there taking his dick out every five seconds," Clarke says in the clip. Turning to his "Doctor Who" co-star Camille Coduri, he asks: "Do you remember that time he put it on your shoulder in the makeup truck?" She responds: "Yes, I do."

Clarke then does his impression of Barrowman, using a mike as his penis. "Clarke's lawyers described the incident as 'a mere snippet of a much longer, good-humoured conversation'. Coduri declined to comment, and Badland did not respond to a request for comment," added the Guardian.

Some crew members (who only used first names) spoke to the Guardian about the inappropriate sexual behavior on the sets of "Dr. Who" and "Torchwood," and elaborated on Barrowman's behavior.

One, named Jenna, said "she frequently witnessed Barrowman expose himself on set. 'He 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,' she said. On one occasion, Jenna said that she witnessed Barrowman 'slapping' his penis on the windscreen of one of the driver's cars, 'thinking it was really funny'."

Another, named Monica, had similar recollections. "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," she said.

"Although she did not appreciate his behaviour, or find it particularly funny, Monica stressed she did not feel unsafe. 'It just felt really uncomfortable,' she said."

Julie Gardner, one of the executive producers of "Dr. Who," told the Guardian that Barrowman had been reprimanded after she received a complaint around 2008 about his behavior on the "Torchwood" set. "I met with John and reprimanded him," Gardner said, adding that she also spoke to 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," she added.

Since the Guardian report, the British television show "Dancing on Ice," on which Barrowman has been a judge since 2020, said that since the show is in hiatus, there will be no decision on the judging panel until closer to production time. But some knives are out already. On Sunday the British newspaper The Sun reported Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke said "that Barrowman should step down from a family show such as 'Dancing on Ice.' "

Mr Shelbrooke said: "Inappropriate behaviour like this is not acceptable no matter what the circumstances. ITV and the BBC have a responsibility with the standards they set. 'Dancing On Ice' is a family show and ITV shouldn't be willing to indulge this behaviour in any way. It's incumbent on broadcasters to show they are not condoning such behaviour in any way."

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