Captain Jack Harkness

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Doctor Who universe character
Captain Jack Harkness
With Ninth Doctor
Tenth Doctor
Torchwood Institute
Race Human
Home era 51st century (originally)
21st century (currently)
First appearance "The Empty Child"
Actor John Barrowman

Captain Jack Harkness is a fictional character in the British television series Doctor Who and Torchwood. He is played by actor John Barrowman. He was first in Doctor Who in the 2005 episode "The Empty Child" and is in the show throughout the rest of the 2005 series as a companion of the Ninth Doctor. Jack later becomes the main character in Torchwood, an adult-themed spin-off of Doctor Who. He comes back into Doctor Who in the 2007 series and he meets the Tenth Doctor, and returned again for the 2008 series.

Jack is a time traveller and former con man from the 51st century. A bisexual. In contrast to the wiser and older Doctor, Jack prefers a hands-on solution to the problem at hand. As a consequence of his death and being brought back in the last episode of the 2005 series of Doctor Who, the character becomes immortal, which does not change during both Doctor Who and Torchwood.

Characterisation[change | change source]

"I wanted kids to like him, and I wanted women, men, I wanted everyone to like him. But first I wanted people to hate him. I wanted them to think he was arrogant and pushy and too sure of himself. And I wanted them to follow the arc of the change he went through in the final episodes of Doctor Who."

——John Barrowman[1]

In naming the character, executive producer and head writer Russell T Davies got inspiration from the Marvel Comics character Agatha Harkness,[2] Jack's original appearances in Doctor Who were thought of with the intention of forming a character arc in which Jack is changed from a coward to a hero,[3] and John Barrowman consciously minded this in his portrayal of the character.[1] Following on that arc, the character's debut episode would leave his morality as ambiguous, publicity materials asking, "Is he a force for good or ill?"[4]

The character is described as both "lethally charming... good looking and utterly captivating",[4] as well as "flirtatious, cunning, clever and a bit of an action man".[5] Within Doctor Who, Jack's personality is light-hearted, although this changes in Torchwood's first series, where he becomes a darker character.[6] In Torchwood Series 1, Jack has been shaped by his ongoing search for the Doctor and also by his role as a leader, in which he is predominantly more aloof.[7][8] During The second series of Torchwood, Jack became a much more light-hearted character once again, after appearances in Doctor Who where he was reunited with the Doctor.[9][10]

From the Torchwood onwards, Harkness wears period military clothes from the second World War, including braces and an officer's wool greatcoat in every appearance. Costume designer Ray Holman comments that "We always wanted to keep the World War Two hero look for him, so all his outfits have a 1940s flavor. We knew he'd be running around a lot, so I redesigned his RAF Group Captain's greatcoat from Doctor Who to make it more fluid, because the real things are very weighty... The rest of Jack's costumes are loosely wartime based, so he has big wartime trousers which are getting more and more styled to suit his figure. There are actually five Captain Jack coats used on the show - one hero version which is used for most scenes, one wetcoat made with a pre-shrunk fabric, a running coat which is slightly shorter so John's heels do not catch when he runs and two stunt coats - which were 'hero coats' back in Series 1."[11]

Discussing whether his character could ever find a soulmate, John Barrowman refutes that Jack "likes everybody, and his love for each person is different".[12] He believes that Jack does harbour romantic feelings toward the Doctor, but "would never take that beyond infatuation" and "would never let the Doctor know". Barrowman describes Jack's love for Ianto as "lustful", and if he ever were to settle down with him, he would "let Ianto know that he [Jack] has to play around on the side". John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd have also opined that Jack's relationship with Ianto has however brought out Jack's empathy, and helped to ground him.[13] In contrast, if he settled down with Gwen, "he'd have to commit completely" to her; this is why he does not act on his feelings for her, because even though she would let him flirt with other people, he could "never afford to do anything more[12] Eve Myles, who portrays Gwen, describes theirs as a "palpable love" and opines that "with Jack and Gwen, it’s the real thing and they’re going to make you wait for that."[14] Torchwood Series Two sees Jack promise both Gwen and Ianto that they were the reason he returned to Cardiff.[15] Barrowman claims that Jack also "fancies" fellow companion Martha Jones, admiring her "tenacity" and willingness to "spat with him", and describes Jack's love for Toshiko and Owen as "fatherly", stating "He was guiding them. That's why it was so devastating for him to lose them." Offering reasons why Jack could never find "The One", Barrowman brings up the character's immortality. "He always loses them. He outlives them. They die. He watches them get old. That bothered him in Series One [of Torchwood], but now he's come to terms with that, I think... so now he just sleeps around!"[12]

In several instances in Torchwood, Jack displays no problems with killing a person of any species,[16][17][18] which within Doctor Who, allows Jack's character to act in ways the lead character cannot.[7] When reuniting with the Doctor in the 2007 series, he is verbally warned "don't you dare" when pointing a gun.[19] Witnessing the murder of his colleague Owen, Jack shoots his killer in the forehead, killing him in an act of quick revenge.[20] Whilst the Doctor scorns Jack for joining the Torchwood Institute (an organisation he perceives as xenophobic and aggressive), Jack maintains that he reformed the Institute in the Doctor's image;[21] Jack himself had initially been critical of the moral failings of a 19th-century Torchwood.[22]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Fall TV Preview: Captain Jack (not that one) talks about the gay barrier". seattlepi.com. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  2. Barrowman, John. Interview with Jonathan Ross. Jonathan Ross. BBC Radio 2. 2006-10-21.
  3. Russell T Davies, David Tennant, John Barrowman, Freema Agyeman, Anthony Head. Doctor Who Confidential, "'Ello, 'Ello, 'Ello".
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The lethal charm of Captain Jack". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  5. "A man's man". Theage.au. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  6. "Torchwood at TCA: Barrowman Charms". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "John Barrowman interview 2007 - Radio Times, June 2007". Radio Times. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  8. "Out of Time". Russell T Davies, Catherine Tregenna, Alice Troughton. Torchwood. BBC Three. 2006-12-17.
  9. "'Torchwood' and Capt. Jack Harkness ready to return for new season". The Canadian Press. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  10. "Feature: Torchwood; Divided Loyalties". Starburst. Retrieved 2008-01-20. He is probably back to his normal self now, which is, he’s still got some darkness, but he’s got a humour back. He’s got his one-liners, he finds the humour in a situation, and he’s quick to point that out to people. So yes, he’s a different Jack, but he’s come back as the Jack that we first knew and loved from Doctor Who. 
  11. Holman, Ray (May 2008). "The Fashion Hub". Torchwood Magazine (5): 24.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Fit But You Know It". Doctor Who Magazine (398): 26. 2008-08-20.
  13. Dilworth Jr., Joseph (01-08-08). "SDCC 08: Exclusive Interviews With John Barrowman And Gareth David-Lloyd". Popculturezoo.com. Retrieved 2008-08-06.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. "Who’s new in time travelling?". thewest.com.au. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  15. "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang". Chris Chibnall, Ashley Way. Torchwood. BBC Two. 2008-01-16.
  16. "They Keep Killing Suzie". Russell T Davies, Paul Tomalin, Dan McCulloch, James Strong. Torchwood. BBC, Cardiff. 2006-12-03.
  17. "Cyberwoman". Russell T Davies, Brian Kelly. Torchwood. BBC Three. 2006-08-22.
  18. "Greaks Bearing Gifts". Russell T Davies, Toby Whithouse, Colin Teague. Torchwood. BBC, Cardiff. 2006-12-03.
  19. "Utopia". Russell T Davies, Graeme Harper. Doctor Who. BBC. 2007-07-23.
  20. "Reset". Russell T Davies, J.C. Wilsher, Ashley Way. Torchwood. BBC Three. 2008-02-13.
  21. "The Sound of Drums". Russell T Davies, Colin Teague. Doctor Who. BBC. 2007-07-23.
  22. "Fragments". Russell T Davies, Chris Chibnall, Jonathan Fox Bassett. Torchwood. BBC Three. 2008-03-21.

Other websites[change | change source]