John Barrowman discusses claims he exposed himself on set: ‘All the people making a fuss about it weren’t there’

Actor claimed actions ‘absolutely’ do not constitute as ‘sexual harassment’

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 23 November 2021 12:08
John Barrowman gives first TV interview about exposure claims

John Barrowman made an appearance on ITV’s Lorraine on Tuesday morning (23 November) to talk about claims he exposed himself on the set of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.

Earlier this year, the actor admitted to “tomfoolery” on the set of the BBC show after a 2015 video from a fan convention was unearthed, in which co-star Noel Clarke alleged that he took “his d*** out every five minutes”.

At one point in the clip, Clarke asks his co-star Camille Coduri whether she remembers “that time he put it on your shoulder in the makeup truck?” to which she responds: “Yes, I do.”

In his first TV interview since the story resurfaced, Barrowman told Lorraine Kelly this morning: “All the people making a fuss about it weren’t there.”

He said he now feels like he has to “monitor” himself on set.

Kelly described his sense of humour as “bawdy” and asked if he thinks, on reflection, that he may have crossed a line, to which Barrowman responded: “I think that, if it was now, it would be crossing the line, but something that happened 15 years ago, it was bawdy behaviour, silly behaviour, it was being done in the confines of the set. We were like a family working together.”

He added: “The fact it was stories I’ve already told, I’ve been telling them for years, I haven’t hidden anything. They’ve been exaggerated, they’ve tried to turn them into sexual harassment which it absolutely is not. All the people that are making a fuss about it weren’t there, they don’t know the context of things were done.

“Like I said, I would never do it now, but what we’re not allowing people and myself to do, with the continued bashing in the press just to sell the newspapers, we’re not allowing people to learn, adapt and change and that’s the most important thing.”

John Barrowman and James Marsters filming on the set of ‘Torchwood’ in 2007

Barrowman said that he has “of course” changed and that he was feeling “extremely nervous” in the interview.

He said: “The fact of the matter is I know that, throughout my career, it’s been about promoting people to be yourself and not be ashamed of who you are, and I feel like I’m having to monitor everything. I’ll get past that and still be fun and silly and outrageous but in a different context to what it was 15 years ago.”

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Barrowman said of his conduct: “It’s not going to happen again.”

Many viewers took issue with his comments, with one person tweeting: “Can you imagine a guy in the office did what John Barrowman did and then gets another job there after passing it off as being ‘bawdy’?”

Another added: “@lorraine you should tell John barrowman on your programme this morning that flashing people was not acceptable 15 years ago either. It’s always been sexual harassment and has never been funny.”

“John Barrowman defending himself on Lorraine because 15 years ago was a different time. Not often I’m speechless,” said a third.

The Independent has contacted Barrowman for further comment.

In May, Barrowman said that he has evolved in the years since the on-set incident, adding that his “high-spirited behaviour” was “only ever intended in good humour to entertain colleagues on set and backstage”.

He continued: “With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologised for this previously.”

In 2008, Barrowman also had to apologise after pulling down his trousers during an interview with BBC Radio 1, saying that he had joined in “the light-hearted and fun banter of the show” but “went too far”.

Many Twitter users were also baffled by Barrowman’s choice to speak in a Scottish accent in the new ITV interview. The actor was born in Glasgow where he lived until he was eight, and then his family relocated to Illinois in the US. He sometimes switches between Scottish and American accents.

Viewers are speculating online that he chose Scottish for this interview because Kelly is also Glaswegian.

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