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Torchwood (TV series)

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Torchwood is a Doctor Who television spin-off. As an in-house BBC Wales production for digital television station BBC Three, it is the first television spin-off of Doctor Who since the pilot of K9 and Company in 1981 and the first to be commissioned for a full 13-part series. It originally features the adventures of the Torchwood branch located in Cardiff and later the Torchwood team that succeeds it, and is set on Earth after the events of TV: Doomsday (and for lead character Jack Harkness the events of TV: The Parting of the Ways).

The spin-off series has not yet featured the Doctor himself, though the materialisation sound of the Doctor's TARDIS is heard in the final episode of season one, and other dialogue references have been made, most recently in the Torchwood: Miracle Day arc. Likewise, the appearance of Martha Jones in the second series provides vital continuity between third and fourth series of Doctor Who. Conversely, Jack, as well as his team of Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones featured (and former team members Owen Harper and Toshiko Sato are mentioned) in the last two episodes of the fourth series of Doctor Who.

Regular characters have included Gwen Cooper, Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, Toshiko Sato, Owen Harper, Rex Matheson and Esther Drummond. Martha Jones, Suzie Costello and Vera Juarez have also been portrayed as part of the Torchwood team led by Harkness. Semi-regulars Rhys Williams and Sgt Andy Davidson are the only non-Torchwood members who have recurred across all series.

Origins

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 fantasy drama series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off series, 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") originated during production of the new Doctor Who series, when television pirates were eager to get their hands on the tapes. Someone in the production office suggested that the tapes be labelled "Torchwood" instead of "Doctor Who" to disguise their contents as they were being sent to London. Davies thought that was a clever idea and remembered the name.

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 several Doctor Who episodes and other media which aired in 2005 and 2006.

Premise

The series is set in contemporary Cardiff and follows the Welsh branch of a (semi-)covert agency called the Torchwood Institute, which investigates extraterrestrial incidents on Earth and scavenges alien technology for its own use. As established in the Doctor Who episodes Tooth and Claw and Army of Ghosts, the Institute had been formed by Queen Victoria following an incident involving the Tenth Doctor and a werewolf, ostensibly to protect the British Empire from aliens and other creatures — as well as from the Doctor himself.

To paraphrase Torchwood Three's commander-in-chief, Jack Harkness, the organisation is separate from the government, outside the police, and beyond the United Nations (the last reference thereby placing Torchwood in a different realm than UNIT — once known as the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce).

Although a secret organisation, the existence of Torchwood is known by the public, and Torchwood operatives make no secret of their identity when on duty (they even drive a vehicle emblazoned with the name). Their public perception is as merely a 'special ops' group, with their true responsibilities kept secret to all but a select few.

The events of the first series take place some time after the Doctor Who Doomsday series two finale, in which Torchwood's London headquarters was destroyed, and just before the series three finale; the final episode of Series 1 leads directly into the Doctor Who episode Utopia.

The initial main writer alongside Davies was Chris Chibnall, creator of the BBC light drama show Born and Bred (who later moved over to work on Law & Order UK). Other writers include P.J. Hammond, Toby Whithouse, Doctor Who script editor Helen Raynor, Catherine Tregenna, and Doctor Who cast member Noel Clarke.

In a 17 October 2005 announcement unveiling the series, BBC Three controller 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."[source needed] 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."

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 and second series include content never before seen or heard in the televised side of the Doctor Who franchise, including intense lovemaking scenes (in episodes such as Day One, Out of Time or Dead of Night), same-sex kissing in a romantic/sexual context (in Cyberwoman or Captain Jack Harkness, for example), and use of extreme profanity in several episodes. Such content was controversial among aspects of Who fandom, and, as the series has progressed, such scenes have been minimised, to the point where, by series 3, relatively little of this content remained.

Cast

Main cast

Secondary cast

Television stories

Series 1 - 2006-2007

Main article: Series 1 (Torchwood)

Series 2 - 2008

Main article: Series 2 (Torchwood)

Series 3 - 2009

Main article: Series 3 (Torchwood)

Series 4 - 2011

Main article: Series 4 (Torchwood)

Other media

Prose

Novels

See list of Torchwood novels

Short stories

See list of Torchwood short stories

Comics

See list of Torchwood comic strips

Reference books

Audio

Audiobooks

Audio stories

Radio

Web series

Web of Lies

Magazines

Torchwood The Official Magazine was a title launched in 2008 and published by Titan Publishing Group, that ran to twenty-five issues. The licence expired as a consequence of a realignment of Torchwood merchandising in responce to the BBC's co-production agreement with Starz).

In 2010, Titan began publishing a monthly comic book for the North American market, Torchwood The Official Comic, reprinting comic strips and short stories from the UK magazine. Material from the magazine was also used in the two Torchwood The Official Magazine Yearbook (2008) and Torchwood The Official Magazine Yearbook (2009).

Continuity

Crossover characters/aliens

Doctor Who

From Doctor Who
To Doctor Who

The Sarah Jane Adventures

To The Sarah Jane Adventures
From The Sarah Jane Adventures

Future

Future series

John Barrowman, in an 2010 interview with The Scottish Sun, said that he expected Torchwood to run until 2017.[1]

However, Russell T Davies stated in October 2012 that for personal reasons the show is now on an indefinite hiatus.[2][3]

Video game

In an interview with Robert Nashak of BBC Worldwide, it was revealed that the BBC were looking into creating a game for Torchwood. Whether these would be in the form of the Adventure Games, or for retail on platforms, is unknown. [4]

Aborted ideas

Musical

According to Russell T Davies in The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter, two former members of the pop group ABBA issued a proposal for a stage musical based upon Torchwood. The proposal was rejected, and in his book Davies strongly indicates that the idea was never taken seriously.[5]

American series

In January 2010 US media reported that Davies, Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter were planning a US version of Torchwood for the Fox network, which had previously aired the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie. According to the reports, Barrowman and other original cast members may have appeared. The media coverage did not indicate whether or not the series was expected to be a remake/standalone, or if it would tie in with existing Whoniverse continuity. On the 20th January 2010 it was announced that Fox had ordered a pilot script for a US version of Torchwood from BBC Worldwide.[6] On 21st April 2010, however, BBC Worldwide announced that Fox had chosen not to proceed with the series, which according to the BBC was to have been a 13-episode, serialised programme, similar to the UK original.[7]

The show was later picked up by the American network Starz, which co-produced the fourth series.

See also

External links

Footnotes

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