Time’s Up U.K. has issued a statement regarding actor John Barrowman’s appearance on a British talk show, in which he claimed that repeatedly exposing his penis on set and in interviews “absolutely is not” sexual harassment.
There have been multiple reports of Barrowman, who has appeared in shows including “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood,” exposing himself publicly for over a decade. On Tuesday, the Scottish-born American actor appeared on ITV’s “Lorraine” to discuss the incidents, which he admitted to, albeit with various caveats.
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“The assertion by John Barrowman that his well-documented actions do not constitute sexual harassment reveals yet again the need for the entertainment industry to underline and reassert expected standards of behaviour of which this is wholly unacceptable,” a spokesperson for Time’s Up U.K. told Variety. “Flashing people IS sexual harassment and it is never funny.”
In 2008, during an appearance on daytime talk show “Loose Women,” Barrowman apologized for exposing himself during an interview on a BBC Radio 1 broadcast with Annie Mac and Nick Grimshaw.
A 2018 article in Playbill written by a one-time co-star of Barrowman’s claimed that during one scene in the original Broadway production of “Sunset Boulevard” Barrowman exposed himself on stage and used his penis to play the piano. Although due to his blocking on stage, this went unseen by the audience, cast members could see what was happening and, according to the article, Andrew Lloyd-Webber “immediately wrote him a letter asking that John not upstage the score with his appendage.”
Earlier this year, a video clip went viral of Barrowman’s “Doctor Who” castmates Noel Clarke and Camille Coduri discussing the actor during a panel. In the clip, Clarke says, “And Barrowman’s there taking his dick out every five seconds. Every five seconds just hitting it on everything.”
Clarke — who was himself accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct in April — then turned to Coduri and said: “Do you remember the time he put it on your shoulder in the make-up truck?”
She replied in the affirmative.
When the video resurfaced, Barrowman said in a statement that his actions amounted to “tomfoolery” that was “only ever intended in good humor to entertain colleagues on set and backstage.”
“With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologized for this previously. Since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behaviour have also changed.”
In his first on-screen appearance since discussion of his actions resurfaced earlier this year, Barrowman said on Tuesday: “I think that if it was now, it would be crossing the line. I think that something that happened 15 years ago, it was bawdy behaviour, silly behaviour. It was, you know, being done in the confines of the set and with, you know, we were like a family, working together.
“The fact that it was stories that I’ve already told, you know, I’ve been telling them for years,” Barrowman continued. “I haven’t hidden anything; they’ve been exaggerated and they’ve tried to turn them into sexual harassment, which it absolutely is not.
“And the one thing that, you know, for me, all the people that are making a fuss about it, they weren’t there. They don’t know the context of things that 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 and everything that’s going on just to sell the newspapers, [is] we’re not allowing people to learn to adapt and to change, and that’s the most important thing.”
Host Lorraine Kelly replied: “And learning, adapting and changing is right. And do you think you have?”
“Of course,” Barrowman said. “Of course I have. We’ve moved on. And from this point I want to move on and I want to continue to move forward.”
In 2020, Barrowman joined the judging panel of “Dancing on Ice,” on which he’d appeared as a contestant in 2006. He was not asked to return in 2021.
Variety has reached out to Barrowman’s representatives for comment on the Time’s Up U.K. statement.
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