How We Met: John Barrowman & Jodie Prenger
- How We Met: John Barrowman & Jodie Prenger
'John constantly gave me good advice, but it was
fur that really brought us together'
Interviews by Adam Jacques
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Consider yourself one of the family: Barrowman
gave Prenger an 'in' with his manager Gavin Barker and his circle of friends
John Barrowman, 42, is best known for his role as
Captain Jack in the 'Doctor Who' spin-off
'Torchwood'. He is also a singer and stage actor,
appearing in 'La Cage aux Folles' and as a judge
on the BBC talent show 'I'd Do Anything' in 2008.
He lives in London with his partner, Scott.
The thing I love most about Jodie is that she
makes me laugh. It goes back to the first day I
met her: she walked into the audition for I'd Do
Anything, saying, "Ooh, my feet are killing me,
can I take my shoes off, please?" I said, "Are
they really hurting your feet?" And she said,
"Yeah, they only cost me 10 quid." I just lost it
and laughed through her whole audition. Very
rarely do you meet someone in this business who's
willing to show who they really are, but with
Jodie what you see is what you get, which is the same with me.
The only time we could talk to the contestants
was in the BBC bar after the Saturday-night TV
performance. I would talk to each of them but it
was Jodie who was always coming to me for advice.
And, as the competition progressed, we weren't
talking about advice, but about home, family and dogs.
When she won, I was ecstatic that a genuine
person had come through it. We stayed in touch
and started going out to dinners and I'd have her
over to my house. I introduced her to my manager,
Gavin, who agreed to sign her. We've done all
sorts together since, including a recording for
my album. I could have had performers who were
more prominent in the pop scene, but I wanted
Jodie; for me it's about being loyal.
She's very supportive to me, too, coming to see
my shows, and when I had a tough time with the
Radio 1 thing [Barrowman exposed himself during a
broadcast 14 months ago], Jodie knew what I was
going through and was the first to get in contact.
She's met all my friends, who love her in fact
one of them, Shirley, came to watch Jodie's every
appearance during the show. And she's great fun
on a night out. Our last extravaganza at my place
lasted till 6am; the champagne flowed, we had a
sing-along with my piano and we played truth or dare.
I've met Jodie's parents a few times, and
whenever they come to visit her from Blackpool,
her father always pulls me aside and says, "Thank
you, you do a lot more for her than you think you
do," so I know she's appreciative of everything.
But despite how we first met, I'm no longer her
teacher and she's not the student that's not how we see each other now.
Jodie Prenger, 30, is an actor and singer who won
the BBC talent show 'I'd Do Anything' in 2008,
netting her the role of Nancy in the West End
revival of the musical 'Oliver!'. She lives in London
I first encountered John during the second round
of auditions for I'd Do Anything. He was one of
the judges, and I was petrified, like a deer in
front of headlights, but it was his laughter that
put me at ease. I was nervously trying to kick
off my shoes on stage, which still had their £5
sticker on the sole, and John spotted it, and he
just started giggling; John's always laughing.
I was going through these massive life-changing
reality experiences, and John constantly gave me
great advice for being on stage such as, "Just
act like you're the only one in the pub." But it
was fur that really brought us together. During
the filming of one of the episodes of the series,
his partner Scott called him to say his dog had
passed away; it was such a sad thing. I'm just
dead soft with dogs, so suddenly it was all I
could think about, so I just said to him, "Don't
even bother about us, we'll be fine, just go," as
if it was me running the show! After that we
talked about dogs all the time: I've got two
Yorkshire terriers; John now has a Jack Russell and a mixed.
Over the course of the rest of the show we
started finding out just how similar we were. A
lot of people say that I am a gay man trapped in
a woman's body. I've done a few radio-show
stand-ins for Paul O'Grady, and when I talk about
favourite songs, I have a gay man's song choices;
one of my favourites, "I Am What I Am", John sang
when I went to go watch him recently in Le Cage
aux Folles and I remember thinking, "Oh my God,
that's the perfect role for me."
When I first moved to London from Blackpool, the
thing that really scared me was being on my own.
But after I won the show, John took me under his
wing; he introduced me to his manager Gavin
Barker and I became part of this circle we call
the Barker Family. When you are a good person,
you surround yourself with good people, as John
has. As a group we've all been out drinking and
survived; a few of us went to The Ivy last year
for his birthday. He's a very handsome man, so if
we're out people always look at him, and when
they realise it's John, they go in for an autograph.
We've worked together a lot since the
competition. I've performed at some of his
concert tours, and when he rang me up in
September last year to ask me to do a duet track
with him ["So Close", from the film Enchanted], I
jumped at the chance it meant a lot that I was
the first one he thought of. My parents and
John's parents all met up recently to listen to
the final version over a cup of tea and it was
fabulous seeing both sets of parents beaming with
pride. It's been great knowing someone who's in
the same industry, and he's been a fantastic
mentor, but most importantly his friendship has
given me something else: a home away from home.
John Barrowman's self-titled album is out on Sony
Precious and rare all Love is, gender matters not.
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