Amy Palmer

Of writing, reading and creating


The Power of Characters

On this day, ten years ago, I sat down to watch an episode of Doctor Who with my family. That episode was ‘The Empty Child’. I was twelve years old. I loved Doctor Who. Nine was my Doctor, and I adored him. Rose Tyler was awesome at being, well, awesome. By the end of the episode, I knew two things with certainty. One, gas masks are terrifying. Two, I was entirely and irrevocably in love with Captain Jack Harkness.

A decade later, that love has not waned at all. If anything I’m more attached to the immortal man from the future than ever.

The following year the first series of Torchwood came to the BBC. From the first episode I was hooked, and I could hardly wait for new episodes to air. Unlike other shows that I watched, Torchwood delved into a world of sexuality that was almost entirely new to me. I had grown up in a world of media dichotomy, of straight and gay. I count myself very lucky that Torchwood existed in my life at the time when I most needed it. I know lots of people who have watched Torchwood, and enjoyed it, but don’t have the same attachment to the characters that I do. I put this entirely down to context. For me, Torchwood was not just an enjoyable pass time (though it was certainly that, and still is). The characters within it helped me to understand myself, in a situation where other avenues of information about sexuality were sadly lacking. Torchwood was not just a show, it was a thrilling learning experience.

By the end of the first year, my interest had extended to the man who played the character. I bought CDs which I own still. In 2009 I caught a train to Cardiff with my best friend to see John Barrowman in pantomime. Not only did we have a fantastic time at the show, I fell in love with a city I had never been to before. Three years later I moved there for University. I haven’t left.

The best characters, in my opinion, are the ones that stay with you. The ones that take on a life outside of their stories and are important to you long after you finish a book, film or TV show. Captain Jack Harkness is one of those characters, as are others from Torchwood. So here’s to Jack Harkness. Here’s to ten years of inspiration and enjoyment. And here’s to many more.

Now I’m off to watch my favourite Torchwood episode, ‘Captain Jack Harkness’.

Do you have a character you’re particularly attached to? A show you return to to now that there’s no new episodes? Can you pinpoint why that character, or that show?

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