In an interview with TV Line, John Barrowman seemingly squashed whatever lingering hopes fans may have had that his character, Captain Jack Harkness, would make a surprise appearance in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special.
Harkness, a pansexual time agent from the near future made his first appearance in series one of the reboot, joining the Doctor as a companion alongside Billie Piper (who is returning for the special), before being spun off into his own series, Torchwood, which ran for four series.
In speaking to TV Line, Barrowman said:
“Everyone on Twitter tries to make it like it’s my decision, but the bottom line is I was not asked,” he maintains. “[The Powers That Be] don’t want to put Jack in it. And I know fans are really upset about it, as was I.”
“People have tried to say it’s my schedule; it’s absolutely not,” he insists. ”I was told by the producers of Arrow that if I was asked to do the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who they’d let me go and do it. It was nothing to do with my schedule. It’s just a matter of fact that I wasn’t asked.”
“I understand why they did it. They want to move forward, they want to try some different things… I know from how [former EP exec producer Russell T. Davies] approached things, they’re not doing [the special] just for the uber fan; they’re doing it for the wider audience. And if they’re going to bring a character back it wouldn’t be just for the uber fan, it would be for everybody. So perhaps that’s the thinking they had. I don’t know.”
Keep in mind, Barrowman’s reasons for why he wasn’t asked are speculation on his part (and I’m not sure how well they fly, given that Billie Piper and David Tennant, both of the Harkness era, are coming back). It could be that Steven Moffat (the new showrunner) just doesn’t like the character (although Jack’s first appearance was in a Moffat-penned episode, ‘The Empty Child,’ so that’s unlikely), or maybe he wanted to include him, but just couldn’t make him fit with the story or running time. Either way, unless everyone involved is orchestrating a very grand conspiracy, this seems to be the nail in the coffin.