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Torchwood Episode 1:
A serial killer is on the loose in Cardiff. At the scene of one of the stabbings, PC Gwen Cooper is shocked as she witnesses one of the victims being brought briefly back to life by a mysterious group of investigators known only as Torchwood. Becoming obsessed with Torchwood and its leader, Captain Jack Harkness, Gwen finds herself spiralling into a world of terrifying monsters and alien artefacts which may change her life forever.
When it was announced in September 2003 that Doctor Who would be returning to British airwaves, part of the BBC's internal strategy was to position the show as the forerunner of a renewed emphasis on drama production by BBC Wales. The primary studio facility was situated in Newport, most location filming took place in and around Cardiff, and an effort was made to cast guest artistes from the region; it was no coincidence that executive producer and head writer Russell T Davies was himself a Welshman, although he now made his home in Manchester. Nonetheless, Davies was conscious that Doctor Who should not appear too Welsh, with aliens abruptly targetting Cardiff as a regular site for their schemes and invasions; in the new Doctor Who series' first season, only two episodes -- The Unquiet Dead and Boom Town -- were actually set in Wales.
However, the resounding success of Doctor Who gave the BBC impetus to seek additional output from Davies and his team. For some time, Davies had been contemplating a drama which could represent something of an adult counterpoint to the family-friendly perspective of Doctor Who: a moodier, more visceral take on the concept of alien activity on modern-day Earth. When he was approached about developing a Doctor Who spin-off, Davies seized upon this idea. Not only would it give his office the chance to tackle more mature material, but he also saw this as an opportunity to feature Wales more prominently on television.
At this stage, Davies had already begun seeding references to an organisation called the Torchwood Institute in some of the stories for Doctor Who's 2006 season. This had first been obliquely mentioned in Bad Wolf, and would now be established as a crucial element of Army Of Ghosts / Doomsday, the second season finale. Now Davies decided that Torchwood would make an excellent vehicle on which to pin his spin-off concept. The name “Torchwood”, an anagram of “Doctor Who”, had actually begun life as a way to disguise footage from the series prior to broadcast. On October 17th, 2005, it was announced that Torchwood would debut the following year on BBC3, the Corporation's flagship digital channel.
As with Doctor Who, it was decided that Davies would serve as an executive producer on Torchwood alongside Julie Gardner, Head of Drama for BBC Wales. Unlike Doctor Who, however, Davies would largely be assigning the scripting duties to others, although he would assume these responsibilities for the debut episode. In further refining his notions for the new series, Davies drew upon the rift in time and space running through Cardiff, which had been created for The Unquiet Dead and had reappeared in his own Boom Town, as a key element of the scenario.
Torchwood also gave Davies the mechanism by which to bring the character of Captain Jack Harkness, played by John Barrowman, back to television. Barrowman, born in Scotland but raised in Illinois, had enjoyed numerous appearances in West End musicals, earning a 1998 nomination for Best Actor in a Musical for The Fix. In the United States, he had starred in the nighttime soap operas Central Park West and Titans. He had played Captain Jack in Doctor Who for five episodes, beginning with The Empty Child and ending with The Parting Of The Ways; since then, he had been seen singing in the infamous “Springtime For Hitler” sequence in the movie remake of Mel Brooks' The Producers. Jack would now be the main protagonist in Torchwood, with Davies drawing upon his death and resurrection in The Parting Of The Ways to add darker shades to Jack's characterisation.
The other lead role, intended to be more of an everyman character to provide the audience's point of view, was Gwen Cooper. Cast in this role was Eve Myles, with whom Davies had worked on The Unquiet Dead, for which she played the ill-fated maid Gwyneth. Myles was Welsh, and had previously starred in Belonging.
Over the ensuing months, Davies filled out the rest of the Torchwood main cast. He again looked to his Doctor Who experiences in casting Naoko Mori, presumably reprising her Aliens Of London role as Toshiko Sato. Mori had appeared on a recurring basis in Absolutely Fabulous; her other credits included TV shows such as Spooks and Doctors, as well as feature films including Topsy-Turvy and Spice World. Burn Gorman, chosen to play Dr Owen Harper, was best known for his work on Bleak House; he had also acted in Dalziel And Pascoe and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, amongst others. Ianto Jones would be portrayed by another Welshman, Gareth David-Lloyd, who had been seen in programmes including Casualty and The Bill. Finally, the recurring role of Gwen's boyfriend, Rhys Williams, went to Kai Owen, who also numbered Casualty and Rocket Man amongst his credits.
Davies also decided to wrongfoot his audience by appearing to cast a sixth Torchwood regular, Indira Varma, as Suzie Costello. Varma had earned credits on such programmes as Rome, The Quatermass Experiment and The Canterbury Tales, as well as the Bollywood production Bride & Prejudice. Suzie was actively promoted as another prominent member of the Torchwood team, but Davies planned to shock his audience by killing her off in the series' very first episode, at this point called “Flotsam And Jetsam”.
Production on Torchwood was originally scheduled to begin in January 2006. James Hawes, who had directed several Doctor Who episodes including The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances and The Christmas Invasion, was booked to produce the series. However, the Torchwood timeframe was subsequently bumped back to a May startdate, forcing Hawes to abandon the programme due to other commitments. Replacing him was Richard Stokes, who had previously been an executive producer on series including The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Holby City. Stokes had been a candidate to produce Doctor Who in 2004.
It was planned that Torchwood would share many of the same crew and facilities as Doctor Who, including the brand-new Upper Boat studio space in southern Wales. The primary standing set for Torchwood, the headquarters dubbed the Torchwood Hub, was given pride of place in the studios, erected immediately adjacent to the TARDIS set for Doctor Who.
Work on “Flotsam And Jetsam” began on May 1st, 2006. It was paired with the second episode, Day One, as part of the first production block, directed by Brian Kelly. Kelly had also helmed installments of Sea Of Souls, Monarch Of The Glen and Teachers.
Promotion of Torchwood began in earnest on October 1st, when the initial teaser trailer premiered on BBC television; a full thirty-second trailer was then broadcast from October 7th. The official Torchwood website went live on October 12th, by which time it was known that the first story was now titled Everything Changes. This episode received its debut screening at the Torchwood press launch on October 18th.
Although some consideration was given to broadcasting Everything Changes simultaneously on both BBC1 and BBC3, in the event it was decided to reserve it exclusively for BBC3 viewers on October 22nd (although the episode would enjoy a terrestrial transmission on BBC2 later on that week). However, Everything Changes would now be immediately followed by Day One, creating a 100-minute block of Torchwood programming. And indeed, the new series lived up to the success of its parent show, securing an audience of 2.5 million viewers -- the largest ever for non-sport programming on digital cable in the UK. The phenomenal popularity of Doctor Who appeared to have embraced Torchwood as well...
|Updated 18th December 2011|
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