From Afterelton.comDoctor Who’s Russell T Davies greatly influenced by BtVS
Saturday 21 May 2005, by Webmaster
Bisexual men have, up until now, been virtually invisible on the small screen. Dynasty’s Steve Carrington had a long-term male lover, Luke, for awhile, then later married a woman, and then, had another relationship with a man during the Dynasty reunion show. But other than Carrington, there have been no major representations of bisexual men on American or British television.
While Showtime’s ensemble lesbian show The L Word sports a prominent bisexual character, Alice, among its gaggle of gal pals, both the American and British versions of gay show Queer as Folk have focused on groups of men who are perfect sixes on the Kinsey scale. In Season Four, stateside QAF recently depicted Hunter, a teenage once-gay-street-hustler, falling for a girl at his high school. But this plot arc seemed to concentrate on the difficulties of Hunter “coming out” as straight, rather than making claim to a bi-identity. Are bi men not included in the queer TV revolution? If so, is this because they are not often accepted with very open arms in either straight or gay cultures in general?
The new imaginative BBC remake of the sci-fi series Dr. Who, created by producer/writer Russell T. Davis (the creator of the original UK-version of Queer as Folk), offers a reprieve. Beginning on May 21st, openly-gay actor and singer John Barrowman will join the cast of the brand-new British hit for the last five episodes of the first season as bisexual, inner-galactic time-traveler Captain Jack Harkness.
Chances seem good that Barrowman’s character, who joins The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and his sidekick companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) on their time and space adventures, will also reappear in Season Two.
Barrowman has played queer before, recently as Cole Porter’s male lover in a biopic about the late composer De-Lovely, in which he shows off his exquisite baritone in a duet with Kevin Kline (who plays Porter) of “Night and Day.” Barrowman is big Cole Porter fan; he even released an album, John Barrowman Swings Cole Porter, of some of his favorite Porter tunes to compliment the film. Barrowman tells The Advocate that what he admires so much about the bisexual song-writer’s lyrics is the way “[Porter] was writing his autobiography through his music. ‘What is This Thing Called Love?’ is a song of turmoil, questioning the nature of this love that he had for his wife and his male lovers. ‘Easy to Love’ was actually written about a man, and the line “So sweet to waken with/So nice to sit down to eggs and bacon with” is really risqué if you’re in the know...”
Barrowman, 37, has been with his long-term partner, architect Scott Gill for over ten years. He met Gill during his production of Rope at the Chichester Theatre, and Barrowman admits to Playbill’s Wayman Wong that he was seen by Scott right away in the buff: “I joke with Scott now that he knew what he was getting [with me] because for the first ten minutes of the show, I was naked. Afterward, we met and click! I knew I’d spend the rest of my life with him.” The two men are now a happy family. “My parents love Scott,” Barrowman gushes to Wong. Together, the couple have two cocker spaniels and homes in London and California.
Originally born in Glasgow, Scotland, but raised in Joliet, Illinois since the age of eight, Barrowman has remained rather bi-continental. Barrowman’s Scottish accent is mostly undetectable in his screen and television roles, but he uses it in private, he explains in a 1996 interview with Al Weisel for US Magazine: “I learned to speak with an American accent because kids used to make fun of my Scottish accent... I’m more comfortable speaking Scottish. When I speak with my family I speak Scottish. On television in England I speak American. It’s like being bilingual.”
After studying music at the United States International University in San Diego, Barrowman moved back to the UK to star in musicals “Anything Goes,” “Miss Saigon,” and “Hair,” among others, in London’s West End, for which Barrowman became immensely popular. In fact his strong musical-theater career there has made a much bigger name for the actor/singer in England than in America. The American television shows Barrowman has made, including Central Park West and Titans, have largely been duds.
With Dr. Who, Barrowman has a good chance to broaden his fame internationally, while also representing a bisexual man on TV. Filmed on widescreen DV [digital video] in Cardiff, Wales, the new Dr.Who has gotten rave reviews on its first handful of episodes for its slick special effects, witty writing, and contemporary take on the original 1960s series. Many comparisons have been drawn between it and the fantasy/horror genre shows created by Joss Whedon for the WB in the nineties.
The Observer’s Robin McKie calls Dr. Who a “clever imitation of US hits such as Buffy and Angel: a mixture of smart, ironic humour and creepy horror.” Creator Russell gladly acknowledges that Whedon’s sharp, playful, but also dramatically-deep writing style had great influence on him with regards to Dr. Who: “[Buffy the Vampire Slayer] showed the whole world, and an entire sprawling industry, that writing monsters and demons and end-of-the world isn’t hack-work, it can challenge the best. Joss Whedon raised the bar for every writer-not just genre/niche writers, but every single one of us.”
Appearing on Saturdays on BBC1, Dr. Who is also decidedly British in its humor. Sylvester McCoy, who played The Doctor in the ‘eighties reincarnation of the series, calls the current version “a Doctor Who for the new millennium...fast-paced, imaginative and very wonderful. There is something gorgeously, gloriously British about the whole thing and I think it has hit written all over it.”
Merchandise is already being developed for the new show, which will have distribution in Canada as well as the UK. Further foreign distribution, including possibly airing the series in the US, is still in the works. So gay and bi male viewers around the world may soon be able to catch a peek of Barrowman’s sexy, bi time traveler Captain Jack.
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