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Torchwood is a British science fiction drama television programme, created by Russell T Davies and starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles. It deals with the machinations and activities of the Cardiff branch of the fictional Torchwood Institute, who deal mainly with incidents involving extraterrestrials. An initial 13-part series was commissioned by the BBC as a spin-off from the 2005 revival of the long-running science fiction programme Doctor Who with which it is closely interlinked.

The programme is produced in-house by BBC Wales, where Head of Drama at that time Julie Gardner serves as executive producer alongside Davies. The first two episodes of Series 1 of Torchwood premiered on 22 October 2006 on BBC Three and BBC HD. Series 2 premiered on BBC Two and BBC HD on 16 January 2008.[1][2] A third series has been confirmed, currently set to be a five-part miniseries airing over a period of a week,[3] [4]


In 2002, before the revival of Doctor Who, Russell T. Davies began to develop an idea for a science-fiction/crime drama in the style of American dramas like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.[5] This idea, originally titled Excalibur, was abandoned until 2005, when BBC Three Controller Stuart Murphy invited Davies to develop a post-watershed science-fiction series for the channel. During the production of the 2005 series of Doctor Who, the word "Torchwood" (an anagram of "Doctor Who") had been used as a "code name" for the series while filming its first few episodes and on the 'rushes' tapes to ensure they were not intercepted.[6] Davies connected the word "Torchwood" to his earlier Excalibur idea and decided to make the series a Doctor Who spin-off. Subsequently, the word "Torchwood" was seeded in Doctor Who episodes and other media which aired in 2005 and 2006.

The series is set in Cardiff and follows the Welsh branch of a covert agency called the Torchwood Institute which investigates extraterrestrial incidents on Earth and scavenges alien technology for its own use (its origins are outlined in the Doctor Who episode "Tooth and Claw"). To paraphrase Torchwood Three's commander-in-chief, Captain Jack Harkness, the organisation is separate from the government, outside the police, and beyond the United Nations. Their public perception is as merely a 'special ops' group. The events of the first series take place some time after the Doctor Who series two finale, in which Torchwood's London headquarters was destroyed, and just before the series three finale.

The main writer alongside Davies is Chris Chibnall, creator of the BBC light drama show Born and Bred. Other writers include P.J. Hammond, Toby Whithouse, Doctor Who script editor Helen Raynor, Cath Tregenna, and Doctor Who cast member Noel Clarke, who gained acclaim for his screenplay for the film Kidulthood. Russell T. Davies wrote just the first episode.[7][8]

In a 17 October 2005 announcement, Stuart Murphy described Torchwood as "sinister and psychological...As well as being very British and modern and real." Davies further described it as "a British sci-fi paranoid thriller, a cop show with a sense of humour. [...] Dark, wild and sexy, it's The X-Files meets This Life." Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag As Torchwood is a post-watershed show — that is, after 9 p.m. — it has more mature content than Doctor Who. Davies told SFX: "We can be a bit more visceral, more violent, and more sexual, if we want to. Though bear in mind that it's very teenage to indulge yourself in blood and gore, and Torchwood is going to be smarter than that. But it’s the essential difference between BBC One at 7 pm, and BBC Three at, say, 9 pm. That says it all — instinctively, every viewer can see the huge difference there." [1] According to Barrowman:

"I don't do any nude scenes in series one; they're saving that for the next series! I don't have a problem with getting my kit off. As long as they pay me the right money, I'm ready to get out my cock and balls." [2]

Davies also joked to a BBC Radio Wales interviewer that he was "not allowed" to refer to the programme as "Doctor Who for grown-ups".[3] The first series includes content never before seen or heard in the Doctor Who franchise, including lovemaking scenes (in episodes such as "Day One" and "Out of Time"), same-sex kissing in a romantic/sexual context, and use of extreme profanity in several episodes.

BBC Three described Torchwood as the centrepiece of their autumn 2006 schedule.[4]

Cast and crew[]

Torchwood, unlike its parent programme, centres on a team instead of a single character and companion(s). The show is oriented on Torchwood Three, the Cardiff branch of the Torchwood Institute, tasked (among other things) with keeping an eye on the space/time Rift that runs through the city, and on whatever washes through it. Torchwood Three is a team of five operatives, led by Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), with Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) as the "new girl" who joins up in the first episode and acts as a point-of-view character for the viewer. Aside from the team, one recurring character is Rhys Williams (Kai Owen), Gwen's live-in boyfriend and later husband, who is initially unaware of the nature of Gwen's mysterious new job. Also regularly recurring is PC Andy Davidson (Tom Price), Gwen's former police partner and occasional comic relief.

Prior to the programme's debut, publicity materials prominently featured Indira Varma as Suzie Costello among the other regular cast members, giving the impression that she would appear beyond the first episode. However, Suzie was unexpectedly killed off at the end of the first episode. The character reappeared once more in the role of a villain.

Other characters who have appeared in more than one episode include Caroline Chikezie as Lisa Hallett, and Louise Delamere as Diane Holmes. Toward the end of the first series, the character of Bilis Manger was introduced as a villain. Paul Kasey regularly portrays aliens on the series, as in Doctor Who, under heavy prosthetics, such as the alien Weevils and Blowfishes. Toshiko's mother, portrayed by Noriko Aida, appears once in each series. Doctor Who's Martha Jones[9]] — played by Freema Agyeman — crossed over to Torchwood for three episodes in the second series (from "Reset" onwards) before returning to Doctor Who midway through its fourth series. Another guest star in Torchwood's second series is former Buffy and Angel star James Marsters who plays recurring role Captain John Hart, a villainous Time Agent and Jack's former lover. Introduced in the episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", he reappears later in the series finale, forced to do Jack's brother Gray's vengeful will; he reforms when he escapes from Gray's influence.[10][ Making minor recurring appearances in the second series are the mysterious little girl portrayed by child actress Skye Bennett, Dr. Angela Connolly portrayed by Golda Rosheuvel and 20th century Torchwood member Alice Guppy, portrayed by Amy Manson.

Actor Character Position
John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Leader, Torchwood Three
Eve Myles Gwen Cooper Police Liaison
Burn Gorman Dr. Owen Harper Medical Officer
Naoko Mori Toshiko Sato Computer Specialist
Gareth David-Lloyd Ianto Jones General Support


Torchwood is filmed and set in Cardiff. The makers of Torchwood deliberately portray Cardiff as a modern urban centre, contrasting with past stereotypical portrayals of Wales. "There's not a male voice choir ... or a miner in sight," said BBC Wales Controller Menna Richards[11] Conservative MP Michael Gove described the debut of Torchwood as the moment confirming "Wales' move from overlooked Celtic cousin to underwired erotic coquette." [12][13] Filming has also taken place in areas outside of Cardiff, including Merthyr Tydfil.[14]

The team's headquarters, referred to as the Hub, is beneath Roald Dahl Plass in Cardiff Bay — formerly known as the Oval Basin. This is where the TARDIS landed in the Doctor Who episodes "Boom Town" and "Utopia" to refuel, and is the location of the spacetime rift first seen in "The Unquiet Dead". The Hub itself is around 3 stories high, with a large column running through the middle that is an extension of the fountain above (which in turn acts as an emergency escape route from the Hub) and at the base of which lies the rift machine.


Main article: Reception of Torchwood

As a spin-off of long-running British cultural artifact Doctor Who, Torchwood's launch into British popular culture has received much positive and negative review, commentary and parody following the hype of its inception, especially regarding its status as an "adult" Doctor Who spin-off as well as its characterisation and portrayal of sex. The series initially attracted record high ratings,[5] which later fell,[6] but ensured the programme at least a second series.

In April 2007, Torchwood beat its parent series, which is also made in Wales, to win the Best Drama Series category at the BAFTA Cymru Awards. The awards, given by the Welsh branch of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, celebrate the achievements of film and television productions made in Wales. Eve Myles won the Best Actress category at the same awards, ahead of Doctor Who's Billie Piper.[7]

In 2008, the episode "Captain Jack Harkness" was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.[8]

In early July, the long-list nominations for the 2008 National Television Awards were announced with John Barrowman and Eve Myles both being nominated for 'Outstanding Drama Performance' and the show for 'Most Popular Drama'.Template:Fact


Torchwood explores several themes in its narrative, in particular LGBT themes. Various characters are portrayed as sexually fluid; through those characters, the series examines homosexual and bisexual relationships. Although the nature of their sexual flexibility is not explicitly discussed, the characters offer varying perspectives on orientation.

Through the use of repetition, in particular of thematically important lines, and by drawing parallels between characters, the show also delves somewhat into existentialism, the value of human life, and the corrupting nature of power. Template:Fact

DVD releases[]

The complete first series has been released on Region 2 DVD in the UK. A North American Region 1 release occurred 22 January 2008, following the broadcast of Series 1 on BBC America in the United States and the CBC in Canada. Series One Part One, Two and Three have been released In Australia Region 4, with the Complete First Series released in February 2008. The complete series 1 sets released in the UK and US also include the episodes of the behind-the-scenes series Torchwood Declassified. The Complete Second Series was released on 30 June 2008 (Region 2), along with the Complete First series on Blu-ray and HD DVD. Series 1 and 2 episodes are currently available for download through iTunes in the US[9] and UK.[10]

DVD Name UK Release Date North American Release Date Australian Release Date New Zealand Release Date
Part One (Episodes 1-5): 26 December 2006 Complete (Episodes 1-13): 22 January 2008 Part One (Episodes 1-5): 31 July 2007 Complete (Episodes 1-13): 11 September 2008
Part Two (Episodes 6-9): 26 February 2007 Part Two (Episodes 6-9): 6 September 2007
Part Three (Episodes 10-13): 26 March 2007 Part Three (Episodes 10-13): 2 October 2007
Complete (Episodes 1-13): 19 November 2007[11] Complete (Episodes 1-13): 6 February 2008
Complete (Episodes 1-13): 30 June 2008 Complete (Episodes 1-13): 16 September 2008 Complete (Episodes 1-13): October 2008 Complete (Episodes 1-13): October 2008

See also[]

External links[]

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  • Weekly Multichannel Top 10 programmes, BARB. Accessed 7 December 2006
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