Barrowman and Tate: Dragon Con’s Greatest Show

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If you thought Monday at Dragon Con was a slow day, meant for packing, unwinding, and breathing, you thought wrong. Because at the “10th Doctor Companions: Donna Noble & Captain Jack Harkness” panel at 1:30AM on Monday in the Marriott Atrium Ballroom, Barrowman and Tate were in the house, and they brought it down with their own brand of live, unfiltered, good-ole-fashioned, inappropriate fun. Talking about kissing David Tennant, flubbing English at the worst times, meeting George Lucas, and eating cake—ALL the cake—for Barrowman.

John Barrowman and Catherine Tate, Doctor Who companions for the 10th Doctor, started the festivities by running through the seated crowd and interviewing those who’d come the farthest. It was a frenzied, chaotic mess of joy, leading to Tate’s favorite fan interaction ever—a man dressed as Doctor Donna.

“What in the name of anything!” Tate exclaimed, upon finding him seated in the middle and dragging him on stage, where she proudly announced, “I give you the Doctor Donna!”

“The resemblance is uncanny,” Barrowman responded as he was commandeering someone’s scooter, which he used to whip up and down the aisles.

“Please tell me someone is not lying on the floor, floundering,” Tate asked.

And, that was just the first five minutes of a raucous hour with, perhaps, two of the funniest people on the planet. They covered all manner of topics—from genuinely touching moments about working on Doctor Who and showing concern for disabled attendees to the truly unsuitable for print. Think sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. And yet, that dichotomy—the goodness and the raunchiness—is what makes Barrowman a Dragon Con favorite. Tate proved his match, on both fronts.

When asked about Captain Jack and Donna getting their own show together, Barrowman said, “Put in the call,” telling the audience that they have the power. Though, ultimately, they agreed it was unlikely, both would love to do it. As far as joining other franchises (past, present or future), Barrowman fangirled over Tate, saying he would have wanted to join her U.K. based sketch comedy series, The Catherine Tate Show, and that he was “verklempt” the first time he saw her on the Doctor Who set.

He went on to talk about filming their first sequence together, saying, “She brought a whole new thing to Doctor Who.” Indeed, Tate’s storyline was not only funny but also one of the saddest and most brutal—a fact she acknowledged, along with recounting the filming of Donna’s entrance into Doctor Who, which was kept secret.

“They smuggled me in,” she said of checking into her hotel the first day as she tried to go incognito, which made the receptionist believe she’d forgotten her own name.

Tate joked multiple times about her weirdness over food—like, she hates cream, sauce, and cake but loves Trader Joe’s and American craft tables when filming. “It blew me away,” she said of eating on set in America, before describing how she once counted 27 varieties of cereal for the cast and crew on the set of the American version of The Office. “That is the god I worship,” she joked.

Barrowman answered more seriously about the difference of filming in England versus the U.S., talking about how in England a show must be mapped beginning to end before starting, whereas here we write, basically, week to week. Not to linger too long in that mode, Barrowman immediately stole a fan’s phone, holding it ransom until she finished her question, and leaving her with some fun pictures. You know, just to remember him by.

Tate didn’t want to jinx future work by talking about her dream franchise to join, but she did admit she loves Veep and Key & Peele. Barrowman, surprisingly, enjoys watching old celebrity roasts—think Dean Martin—calling out the old-style class with which they were done.

An audience hubbub distracted them at that point, to which Tate quipped, “Oh, your pic’s just gone viral.”

“Hallelujah!” Barrowman shouted. Indeed, several audience members were being treated to the pics he had taken on the stolen phone.

The audience wanted to know about funniest moments on the Doctor Who set. “They all involve John’s [rear],” Tate said of Barrowman, who is known—even around Dragon Con—to just let it all hang out, which he also did frequently on the set of Torchwood, once surprising cast mate Eve Myles with a truly disgusting prank. He said she didn’t miss a beat, and it’s since become a long-term, inside thing between the two.

When a man dressed as an Ood took the stage to ask what they find the hardest to play (i.e., funny, sad, serious, etc…), Tate gently petted him, calling the Ood soulful creatures that remind her of her cat, Ginger. As for her answer, she said, “Mine is if I have to play someone nice.”

Barrowman, surprisingly, said he finds comedy hard to play. And puppets. He has a rough time with puppets.

“Well, I’ve worked with her,” Barrowman said, gesturing to Tate, when asked about if he had ever work with puppets.

Not one to miss a beat, Tate replied, “And by that, he means he’s stuck his hand up my [behind].”

Well played, Ms. Tate. Well played. Midnight Chats with Barrowman and Tate, the revue—hopefully coming to Dragon Con 2019.

About the author

Kelly McCorkendale is a dog-lover, avid quilter, and occasional creative writer who loves the color orange and boycotts cable (except Game of Thrones because, well, what if winter is coming!?). After college, she realized poets weren’t in demand, so she shipped off to Madagascar with Peace Corps. Since then, she’s found a niche working on health systems in Africa but has a long-list of life tasks yet to be fulfilled--such as perform blackmail, learn a trade, and become a competitive eater. She has an MA in International Education, believes rice is the elixir of life, and, in high school, won the best supporting actress honor for the state of Missouri. She may also recite poetry (her first love) when imbibing in alcohol.

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