Growing up in Glasgow to being fabulous in the Australian jungle, John Barrowman has achieved a lot in his lifetime. Now, the star is preparing to get back on stage for his upcoming tour, Fabulous. Lorne Gillies sat down with John to learn all about his star studded thirty year career.
“I didn’t realise ‘fabulous’ had become a catchphrase until I came out [of the jungle],” laughs John Barrowman. The actor, singer, and all-round performer has been a popular figure for over thirty years.
Oozing with charisma, humour and showbiz glamour, it’s no surprise he is a much-loved personality.
However, it was his performance in the I’m A Celebrity… jungle that propelled John’s star to new heights. Coming third to Emily Atack and Harry Redknapp, John’s performance began during his introduction tape. You know the one, with the hilarious: “It’s going to be FABULOUS,” phrase dutifully picked up by hosts Holly Willoughby and Declan Donnelly.
Naturally, it was only a matter of time before John saw an opportunity to bring the laughter to a live audience.
John enthuses: “We decided to match those two together: John Barrowman and fabulous. The show itself will have insights into my life, career, my family, friends. There will be photographs and videos all structured together around music, it will be similar to ‘an evening with John Barrowman,’ but it won’t be a dull evening; it will be a fabulous evening.”
The excitement is building for the tour, with many dates selling out. As a performer, how does that feel? “It makes me feel amazing; it makes me feel FABULOUS!” exclaims John in the iconic I’m A Celebrity… fashion.
For people who have missed out on the chance for tickets, all is not lost.
“We are also – I’m probably going to get into trouble for saying this – talking about doing another section of the tour later on in the year,” continues John enthusiastically.
Performing 12 nights across the UK, it is coming home to Scotland that John is really excited about.
“I love coming up to Scotland and people know that even though I don’t live in Scotland, my heart is in Scotland,” says John fondly. Through a broad Scottish accent, John’s adoration for Scotland is evident.
Having been born in Glasgow to parents John and Marion, when John was eight his family, alongside his older brother and sister moved to Illinois.
Even with the relocation, Scotland has had a strong impact. John says: “That’s my homeland. What I love the most about Scottish audiences is that they get my humour, they’re non-judgemental, and the warmest and funniest of audiences that you can come across. At the end they’re always ready for a sing along.”
And an important factor to being Scottish is a strong relationship with family. A trait that John has ensured to intertwine into his life. “My mum and dad are my biggest fans – they always have been. My brother and sister have always been on my side, Scott has always been supportive,” adds John.
“Family has always been important to me and I always go back to that being Scottish.”
Kicking off his tour in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall (18 June), before heading to the capital (19 June), the show – as John explains – will feature the highlights from his life. Stories, songs, anecdotes and images from a 30 year strong career: there’s no business like show business for John.
From singing alongside Elaine Page in the musical Anything Goes, performing in many West End productions, his mesmerising and cult performance of Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and spinoff Torchwood, to his bright, bubbly, heart-warming performance in the jungle – there’s no denying John’s talent.
But, how does he feel he’s progressed as an entertainer? “I like to think I’ve gotten better over the years,” he laughs. “I like to also think that people are also enjoying what I do.
“It’s hard to say for me how I have grown as an entertainer or performer, that’s a social media question to let other people answer. I would be interested to hear what others have to say,” John says earnestly.
“That’s the beauty of what I do: somebody gets something different from it; each individual takes something entirely different and that’s what’s great about being an entertainer and a performer.”
And many new fans will know John from his most recent performance.
IN THE OUT BACK
“I loved doing it,” emphasises John about his three-week stint in the I’m A Celebrity… jungle. “Truthfully, it was hard, exhausting, challenging, you’re lying next to people all the time, you’re snapping, you are exposed. For people to say you’re going in there and playing a game, behaving unlike you usually do: I challenge them to go in there and do it,” continues John.
“When I came out [of the jungle] I said I would never do it again. The more I’ve been away from it, the more I’ve said if they did an All Star version I would go back and do it.”
A true team player, John entertained everyone on screen and in camp. He was a trooper, too, returning to the jungle after spraining his ankle only to go on and power through eating challenges and building a friendship with each member of camp. No more so than actress Emily Atack.
The chemistry between the pair was palpable and their natural connection was clear. So, it is no surprise the offers for the pair to work together are flooding in. “I want to do something together that has longevity. We want to be particular with what we choose as we want it to reflect our fun, personality and our friendship,” explains John.
Although nothing is set in stone, whatever the duo do in the future is sure to be hilarious.
For now, as John jets back to Palm Springs, we’re off to get fabulous for a night of frolics and fun with Mr John Barrowman.