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TV Interview

John Barrowman ('Tonight's The Night')

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John Barrowman ('Tonight's The Night')
From fighting alien threats in Torchwood to pleasing our eardrums with songs such as 'What About Us?', John Barrowman is essentially a living embodiment of all things entertainment. Next on the agenda for the American/Scottish all-rounder is his own Saturday night show for BBC One. Tonight's The Night sees JB give members of the British public the chance to become stars for the night, taking to the stage to fulfil their dream performances. Is there anything this man can't do? We invited him to lunch to find out.

If there's one thing that makes Tonight's The Night different from other Saturday night shows, what is it?
"We're making people's dreams come true and we don't have that on TV. That's really a good thing to do - people being generous and nice to other people. That's what makes us different. We're not there to take the mickey out of people - there's a place for that, and that's Britain's Got Talent."

What do you think of shows like Simon Cowell's where the emphasis is on humiliating people?
"Oh, I think there's a place for them. They're good shows in themselves, but that's not us. We're celebrating who people are and what they want to achieve and what their dreams are. The other difference is that at the end of the show, there is no prize and no big contract - it's completely on the night and you get your dream. Simon's shows are about creating new stars, so we are completely different."

Do you get nervous for the contestants?
"I'm always there for them beforehand - I make a point of going over and speaking to them prior to it and telling them to have fun and enjoy themselves. It's their moment, their big night. I'm actually excited for them! There's been a couple of times when I get emotional on their behalf because the thought of somebody getting a dream they couldn't get otherwise and to see their reaction – it's overwhelming. You can be cynical but you cannot deny it's overwhelming when you see it."

Do you have to be careful that the contestants aren't too good in case it turns into a talent show?
"It's evident that it isn't a talent show because even if they are too good, it's celebrating how good they are. We're not going to judge them so even if they're overwhelmingly good that's great for us – that's what the show's about. It's giving access to people who would never have that opportunity. Their husband or wife or partner or best friend or nan gives them that little shove. It's not like they want to leave their lives or change their lives – they're happy in their lives. They'd just like to celebrate their performance skills for that one Saturday night."

Are you excited about showing off your own theatre skills to the audience?
"I am. When I first started working with Gavin, my manager, I said I would love to do a variety show – it's been a dream of mine since I was a kid! I worked with Carol Burnett in the States on a Broadway show. It was one of the things I really wanted to do – I wanted the big number at the front with the menu in the middle to bring that retro feel to it. It's a dream and I'm glad to be performing on it."

Which celebrities can we expect to appear on the show?
"We've got McFly, The Saturdays and Gethin Jones, plus the cast of Hairspray, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia and we've got more to come!"

Who was your favourite guest celebrity?
"I can't say because everyone was great and pushed themselves to the limit to help. It surprised me how much people wanted to be involved. I've just put in a call to Jason Donovan and I'm waiting for him to get back to me. He said before, 'if you need help with anything, let me know' - so I'm following through! That generosity is making me surprised and that's my favourite bit."

Tonight's The Night begins Saturday at 6.55pm on BBC One.

> Click here to read our interview with John about Torchwood and Doctor Who

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