Torchwood

Torchwood

[tawrch-wood]
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. A third series has been confirmed, currently set to be a five-part miniseries airing over a period of a week, and will air on BBC One.

Overview

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. 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. 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.

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.

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." Davies later denied ever making this comparison, instead describing the show as "alleyways, rain, the city". 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." 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."
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". 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.

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 — 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. 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

Crew

Richard Stokes produces Torchwood. Originally, Doctor Who director James Hawes was lined up as producer. After directing the BBC Four drama The Chatterley Affair, Hawes backed out of the project. Davies told Doctor Who Magazine that Hawes "has been having such a good time... that he's decided directing is his greatest passion, and as a result, he's stepped down."

Helen Raynor and Brian Minchin are the programme's script editors. The series also shares Doctor Who's production designer, Edward Thomas. The show's theme tune is written by Doctor Who's composer Murray Gold, and music for the series is composed by Ben Foster and Murray Gold.

Production

Series 1 of Torchwood was filmed from May 2006 until November 2006.

For the second series Lead Writer Chris Chibnall wrote the opening episode and the three final episodes. Both Catherine Tregenna and Helen Raynor have written two episodes for the new series. The other episodes were written by James Moran, Matt Jones, J. C. Wilsher, Joseph Lidster, PJ Hammond and Phil Ford. Russell T Davies was initially announced as writing two episodes, but due to commitments to Doctor Who he is no longer writing any episodes. Block One, which consists of episodes by Raynor and Tregenna and is directed by Andy Goddard. Colin Teague is directing Block Two, which consists of Episode 2 by Moran and Episode 4 by Tregenna, with Ashley Way directing Block Three, consisting of Episode 1 by Chibnall and Episode 6 by JC Wilsher. An edited repeat of the second series episodes, suitable for children to view, was shown on BBC Two at 7pm.

The third series started shooting on 18 August 2008, a five-episode miniseries that will run in a post-watershed slot on BBC One sometime in spring 2009, on consecutive nights. Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner continue as executive producers, Peter Bennet is its new producer and Euros Lyn will be directing all five episodes. Russell T Davies will be writing the first and last episodes and the overall story arc, the other episodes being written by James Moran (episode 3) and John Fay (episodes 2 and 4). Series 3 will be titled Children of Earth.

International broadcasts

The Canadian network CBC was a co-producer series one, and premiered in October 2007. The show airs for French-speaking Canadian audiences on Ztélé. Series two began airing on Space on 8 August 2008.

The first series began screening on TV2 in New Zealand on Wednesday, 9 July 2008, at 10.30pm (Starting with season 1 and running straight through to the end of season 2, showing 26 episodes in total), and on Cuatro TV in Spain in 2007.

In Australia, after the ABC and SBS passed on the series, Network Ten acquired the rights to air it. After its premiere on 18 June 2007, a reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald's The Guide said, "The appeal of Torchwood is not so much that it's gloriously implausible sci-fi pulp, but that it knows it's gloriously implausible, sci-fi pulp. Ten's press release cites rival programming in their decision to move the show to a Wednesday 12 am timeslot halfway through the series. Torchwood now airs on UKTV in Australia.. Series one was played on Imparja, but as of 3 February 2008 the station is no longer affiliated with Ten and will not screen more. Series 2 of Torchwood is scheduled to air on Ten HD beginning on 1 September 2008.

On 2 April 2007 it was announced that BBC America had acquired the rights to broadcast the series in the United States. The series started on 8 September 2007; the broadcast of the series is tied-in to a "radical makeover" of the channel that is to occur later in 2007. The second series started on BBC America 26 January 2008. Torchwood has become one of the biggest hits for BBC America with its first series premiere in September 2007 attracting an audience of almost half a million viewers.. Episodes on BBC America are generally less edited than Doctor Who episodes on Sci Fi Channel, allowing for harsher language and more-suggestive sexual content (while some words are still muted for broadcast).

Furthermore, HDNet has acquired the US high definition rights for the first 26 episodes (Series 1 and 2) and began airing Series 1 episodes on Monday evenings, starting 17 September 2007. On Monday 11 February 2008 HDNet began showing Series 2 episodes.

In Sweden, Torchwood premiered on 24 June 2007 on TV4 Plus. In Mexico Torchwood premiered on 9 July 2007 on XEIMT-TV Canal 22. In Spain it premiered on 5 August 2007 on Cuatro. The show is set to run in France on NRJ 12. It will also air on KNN in South Korea and on TRT in Turkey. In Latin America the series premiered on 28 August 2007 on People+Arts

In Italy it premiered on 3 September 2007 on Jimmy. In Hong Kong, it premiered on 8 November 2007 on ATV World. In Finland, it premiered on 3 December 2007 on YLE TV2. In Belgium and the Netherlands, it premiered on 8 January 2008 on Sci-Fi Channel. In Germany, RTL II required the rights for Torchwood.

In Greece "Torchwood" is aired by Skai TV. It premiered on 24 July 2008 at 23:00 local time.

In Croatia BBC's "Torchwood", is premiered on 26 July 2008 on Croatian Radiotelevision HRT 2 at 23:00 local CET time.

Setting

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. Conservative MP Michael Gove described the debut of Torchwood as the moment confirming "Wales' move from overlooked Celtic cousin to underwired erotic coquette." Filming has also taken place in areas outside of Cardiff, including Merthyr Tydfil.

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.

The military base scenes in "Sleeper" and the booby-trapped abandoned warehouse scenes in "Fragments" were filmed at RAF Caerwent, near Chepstow, South Wales.

Reception

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, which later fell, 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.

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

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'.

Themes

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.

Episodes

The premiere episode "Everything Changes" was written by Russell T Davies and serves to introduce the main characters and roles within the series, using newcomer Gwen as the audience surrogate in a similar style to the introduction of the companion characters in Doctor Who. The second episode, titled "Day One", aired immediately after the first. It continues Gwen's neophyte role and includes a classic "sex monster" science fiction storyline in the vein of The Outer Limits episode "Caught in the Act" and Angel's second episode "Lonely Hearts". The first 13-episode series ended with a two-parter on 1 January 2007. The first part, entitled "Captain Jack Harkness", is a love story set in wartime Britain, with a subplot which serves to push the setting towards an "apocalypse" for series finale "End of Days". It deals with the ramifications of diseases and persons from throughout history falling through time and across the universe to arrive in the present day, and particularly in Cardiff. The episode also sets up Jack's return in the Doctor Who episode "Utopia".

The second 13-episode series of Torchwood begins by following on with Jack's return from the previous Doctor Who episode, "Last of the Time Lords" with the series premiere, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", which aired 16 January 2008. The series introduces Jack's ex-partner Captain John Hart in its premiere, reveals flashbacks to Jack's childhood in "Adam" and shows how each member joined Torchwood in the penultimate episode "Fragments". A three-episode arc ("Reset", "Dead Man Walking" and "A Day in the Death") in the middle of the series guest stars Doctor Who actress Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones, temporarily drafted into Torchwood. The arc focuses upon the death and partial resurrection of main character Owen Harper, and how he coped as a dead man. The second series' finale, "Exit Wounds" (which aired 4 April 2008) features the departures of main characters Owen and Tosh, whose deaths at the hands of Jack's long-lost brother Gray reduced the series' cast to Barrowman, Myles and David-Lloyd in its closing scenes. The Torchwood Three team make a crossover appearance in the series four finale of parent show Doctor Who, "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", which features Jack Harkness leaving the Doctor at the close of the story, accompanied by Martha Jones and Mickey Smith.

Spin-offs

BBC Two is airing Torchwood Declassified, a making-of programme similar to Doctor Who Confidential. Each Declassified episode runs under ten minutes, in contrast to Confidential's 45 (formerly 30). Torchwood Declassified is also available online at the BBC's Torchwood site.

Torchwood has "a heavy online presence". At the Edinburgh International Television Festival, BBC Director of Television Jana Bennett said that the online features will include the ability to explore the Hub, an imaginary desktop, weekly 10-minute behind-the-scenes vodcasts. Due to digital media rights restrictions most video content on the BBC Three websites is only accessible to users within the UK. "You can join the corporation of Torchwood and be one of its employees," said Bennett. The Flash-based interactive website, including the Hub Tour, debuted on 12 October 2006.

To tie in to Radio 4's CERN themed day in 2008, a CERN-themed radio episode of Torchwood written by Joseph Lidster, entitled Lost Souls, aired as the day's Afternoon Play on 10 September. This was the first Torchwood drama not to feature Burn Gorman and Naoko Mori.

Merchandise

Titan Magazines have launched a Torchwood Magazine which was released on 24 January 2008 in the United Kingdom. The United States version was launched in February 2008. The Australia/New Zealand version was launched in April 2008.

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 and UK.

DVD Name UK Release Date North American Release Date Australian Release Date New Zealand Release Date
Series
One
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 Complete (Episodes 1-13): 6 February 2008
Series
Two
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

Books

Accompanying the main series of Torchwood are a series of novels. On 4 January 2007, BBC Books published the first three original novels based upon Torchwood.

The books were published in paperback-sized hardcover format, the same format BBC Books uses for its New Series Adventures line for Doctor Who. These novels were later released, abridged, as audiobooks.

BBC Books released a second trio of Torchwood books in March 2008.

A third set of books has been announced, to be released 2 October 2008:

On 16 October, BBC Books will release the following book.

  • The Torchwood Archives by Warren Martyn

Original Audiobooks

4 February 2008 saw two Torchwood audiobooks released not based on previously released novels; Hidden by Steven Savile, and Everyone Says Hello by Dan Abnett. A third, In The Shadows by Joseph Lidster, is listed for release in September 2008.

Original Soundtrack

On 22 September 2008, Silva Screen Records released a compilation of music featured in the show's first and second series. The disc features 32 tracks composed by Ben Foster and Murray Gold.

References

See also

External links

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