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.
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:
BBC Three described Torchwood as the centrepiece of their autumn 2006 schedule.
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.
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|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|
|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|
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.