Advent Calendar: John Barrowman on "Never Mind the Buzzcocks"



(Before you ask: No. There is no apparent reason for Fielding to be dressed like that. It just happens sometimes. Judging from the backstage snapshots that surface from time to time, the makeup ladies think he's hilarious.)

If anyone doesn't know who John Barrowman is, you might want to come out of your cave and check, because he's fucking fabulous. You might have seen him in  De-Lovely or The Producers, but most geeky audiences would know him from Doctor Who and Torchwood, in which he plays the cheerfully omnisexual Captain Jack Harkness. Aside from being incredibly attractive and charming, linguists in the audience might wish to note that he is bi-dialectical -- he's originally Scottish, and when his family moved to the United States for a spell, he deliberately taught himself the local accent so that the other little heathens in school would stop wanting to punch him, at least for that. For the Brits, his American accent is specifically and distinctively from Chicago, Illinois (well, Joliet, which is a bedroom suburb about 40 miles from the larger city; Americans speak French about like polar bears speak Hindi, so that's pronounced jo-lee-et). For the Americans, his Scottish accent is Glasgwegian, although not to the completely incomprehensible levels that prompted the distro company to release Trainspotting here with subtitles. I cannot speak to the authenticity of his Scottish accent, but the American one is two or three words away from flawless -- one he consistently gets stuck between the two is "anything", where the Brit pronunciation has first and last syllables of roughly equal emphasis stuck together with a schwa, and the American pronunciation puts all the stress on the front and uses the AmE vowels in "any" (like "penny").

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  1. Barrowman IS fabulous. I've read both his memoirs, co-written with his elder sister (an English professor), and I just learned that they wrote and released a fantasy novel this year which I must hunt down as well. His parents were a couple of merry pranksters, and he is too as a result (read the memoirs for some hilarious examples of him pranking everyone from fans to co-stars); he's also prone to switching back to his Scottish accent upon being spoken to by his parents or other native Scots speakers. YouTube is just full of Barrowman-esque delights, without having to look very far.

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