With filming completed on the third series of Torchwood, and post-production nearing completion on the fourth and fifth episodes, the production team's attention turns towards what lies ahead after that. Specifically, series four - which was, believe it or not, actually commissioned before "Children of Earth" as a bug on new BBC One Controller Jay Hunt's computer led him to believe the 2009 series would be Torchwood's fourth, not third.
(Legally Hunt then had to go back and order a third series, which he did reluctantly - hence the new run is shorter than most, and still hasn't found a home in the schedules.)
So, series four is a go. Yay! Right? Maybe not so much...
Due to another BBC computer bug John Barrowman is now out of contract. I don't know the hows or whys - all I *do* know is that unless Barrowman signs up pretty soon, he won't be onboard for the fourth series (after all, the script process begins months before actual shooting).
What's the likelihood of him resigning the contract? Normally I'd say they were quite high, considering how much that John enjoys his time on the show - a series created specially for him, remember - but this time I'm not so sure, because ITV have made John an offer that even he can't refuse...
You see the channel wants John to head up an all male version of Loose Women, with - it's rumoured - the likes of Christopher Biggins, Julian Clary and David Walliams. Bizzarely, and for no reason I can think of, channel bosses want the show to retain its Loose Women name.
Seeing as though Loose Women (which John has appeared on pretty much every other week since his voice broke) films five times weekly, it'd be impossible for him to shoot both Torchwood and ITV's lunchtime glamourfest.
I was alerted to the problem by a source at the heart of BBC Wales' Upper Boat studios, Wilma Maria Felt - a former make-up artist sacked last year after she was caught watching Primeval in Gareth David-Lloyd's trailer. Here's what she has to say:
"Obviously I worked with John pretty much every day that I was there, and as most people know he needs a lot more make-up than most to get him looking that shiny and artifical. John and I built up a pretty good friendship, mostly because we share one very similar interest... MEN! As a fan of Loose Women, I was one of the first that John told about ITV's offer. Whatever the BBC are willing to pay to keep John ITV will double or triple! Haha, I bet that one man is the sole reason we're in recession right now. Let the money talk. Best of luck to him I say."
Captain Jack Harkness plays such a major part of the Doctor Who mythos, what with the Face of Boe and all that, that it's likely that the production team have a contingency plan in effect - probably something along the lines of casting an experienced, well known older actor to portray an aged-up Jack. Somebody like Robert Vaughan, Patrick Stewart or, hell, one of the Chuckle Brothers (the more they resemble Boe, the better!).
Whatever, Torchwood is guarenteed a full length, 13 part series - with or without John. Eve and Gareth will still be there - and that might mean that both get additional screentime. Wouldn't that be fantastic, having Gwen Cooper promoted to central protagonist, with 60% of every episode's running time. It's what fans have been crying out for ever since the series launched, more Gwen.
(No news if Lis Sladen's long delayed cameo is still going ahead, mind)
Watch this space for updates on John's potential career change. In the mean time you can catch him on the following shows over the next few weeks: Celebrity 60 Minute Make-Over, QI, Saturday's National Lottery, next Thursday's This Morning, a Land of Leather commercial, Jim'll Fix It, Vaginal Reconstruction Live, the Bill, 30 Rock and Muffin the Mule.
He's not appearing on telly today, what with it being April Fool's Day and all...