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A tale of two Captains - or if Malcolm Reynolds met Jack Harkness

Wednesday 5 September 2007, by Webmaster

The Omnisexual Captain Jack Harkness

"I have to say, with all honesty, my favorite character in all of science fiction is Captain Jack," says Chibnall. "I love watching him. I think he’s a brilliant, brilliant hero. He’s a great example across all generations. And I think John Barrowman, who plays him, is magnificent. He absolutely defines that character. He’s a brilliant actor and that character - to have such a sense of fun! But also to be a brilliant leader of Torchwood and to be able to support his own show. You’ve got an omnisexual fifty-first century guy leading a thirteen episode show in Britain and I think that’s an amazing achievement. "

The omnisexual Captain Jack sets the tone for an environment were sexuality goes beyond the simple divisions of gay and straight. "Which is the great thing about him being from the 51st century," Chibnall says. "It’s not like he has any concept of sexuality. There’s a line in Episode Two which I wrote where he says, ’Oh, you and your cute little categories,’ when people are talking about the sexuality. It’s completely irrelevant to him. He will sleep with anything with a zip code."

British television is generally more liberal about sex than its American counterparts, but even in the UK, "Torchwood" is pushing boundaries. "Sci-fi shows tend to be the shows that - because of alien races and alien cultures - they can talk about tolerance and lack of prejudice," says Clarke. " And there’s no reason why that should be limited [when it comes to] sexuality. If there’s a character, your hero, your coolest, kick-ass, hero, why can’t he be omnisexual?"

Clarke adds, "It gives - not that this is a children’s show - but it gives a good message to young people growing up. ’Don’t be afraid of what you are.’ If you’re a boy and you like boys, so what?"

Socially progressive types will enjoy the representation of non-traditional sexuality, while everyone else can sit back and enjoy the pretty actors making out with each other. Because - has it been mentioned yet? There’s a lot of sex on this show.

"[’Torchwood’] is about a group of ordinary people coming together," says Chibnall. "It’s almost like a dysfunctional family. The most dangerous thing about Torchwood is Torchwood. Season one’s about temptation for ordinary people that save the world, but they’ve also got these incredibly tempting things in front of them. You know, hiding a Cyberwoman in a basement. Having a thing that lets you read people’s minds. The spray that attracts people."

In fact, some of the fans who saw the UK airing of "Torchwood" were concerned about the scene early in the series where Owen uses a pheromone spray to attract a reluctant woman. They felt that the woman couldn’t consent and so it was a form of sexual assault.

Chibnall states emphatically that they never meant to give that impression. "Obviously, people can read things the way they want, and that’s the great thing about drama. That’s not the intention of that scene. It’s not directed in that way. It’s not written that way. Also, why would we have that character as a hero? No. Maybe we didn’t make it clear enough, I don’t know, but it’s absolutely not the intention."

"The spray only accentuates feelings that are already there," suggests Clarke.

"Yeah," agrees Chibnall. "And actually, if you look at the way the scene is directed - she’s looking at him, she’s eyeing him up. You know, it’s meant to be comic. Really. It’s a comic scene. And sometimes I think when you interpret comic scenes in a very serious way, it forces a misreading. It’s a tricky one." Chibnall adds, "When you write something, you never know how it’s going to be interpreted, you know, and you can’t really correct that. You have to let the discussion go."

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