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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

John Barrowman’s Captain Jack to return for Doctor Who’s holiday special

Illustration for article titled John Barrowman’s Captain Jack to return for Doctor Who’s holiday special
Photo: Courtesy of BBC America

This afternoon BBC America announced that, following a brief surprise appearance earlier this year, John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness will make a proper return to the TARDIS for this season’s Doctor Who holiday special. There’s some additional context and quotes and stuff further down the page, but if you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’ll want to skip right to the teaser, so let us save you the trouble. It’s right here. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

Barrowman made his return to Doctor Who after a 10-year absence back in January, marking his first appearance as the pansexual Captain Jack since David Tennant relinquished his sonic screwdriver back in 2010. (Barrowman also did some Torchwood in there, but you know how it is. It’s not the same.) As to what that appearance will entail, how significant his role will be, and even when it will air, that’s anyone’s guess.


Here’s the network on what we can expect:

In the upcoming special titled “Revolution of the Daleks,” Captain Jack will be on hand to help the fam as they discover a disturbing plan forming involving one of the Doctor’s most feared and dangerous enemies, the Daleks. With the Thirteenth Doctor locked away in a space prison, will Captain Jack be able to help save planet Earth?

On returning for the special, Barrowman revealed: “Putting on Jack’s coat and setting foot back on the set of Doctor Who was just like going back home. It’s always thrilling to play Captain Jack. He’s a character very close to my heart who changed my life, and to know the fans love him as much as I do makes his return even sweeter. I hope everyone enjoys Jack’s heroic adventure with Thirteen.”

There’s also a quote from showrunner Chris Chibnall:

A Doctor Who holiday special means treats galore, and there’s no bigger treat than the return of John Barrowman to Doctor Who, for an epic and emotional feature-length episode. If anyone can blast away the sheer rubbishness of 2020, it’s Captain Jack. Daleks beware!

So we know it’ll be feature-length, we know it’ll include Captain Jack, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), and all three of her current companions, and we know it’s coming during the holiday season. No date yet, nor much in the way of plot information, but we can make a flimsy guess based on the above trailer, the March season finale “The Timeless Children”, and the confirmed return of Jack’s vortex manipulator. Since the Doctor’s been imprisoned far away from the rest of her friends, she’ll need some help staging a jailbreak, and since Jack a) still has the ability to travel in time, and b) obviously has TARDIS access in some way, it’s a fair bet that he’ll help Bradley Walsh’s Graham, Tosin Cole’s Ryan, and Mandip Gill’s Yaz with the rescue mission.

Barrowman may or may not have known this was on the horizon, but he’s certainly made no secret of his willingness to return to the show. This is from our interview with Barrowman, following his appearance back in March:

AVC: Is there anything you can tease about Jack’s future on the show?

JB: All I can say is, he’ll always be there for the Doctor when she needs him. That’s it. [Laughs.]


More information on “Revolution Of The Daleks” to come, but for now, expect it to air sometime between now and January 2, 2020.


Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!