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coming soon to BBC3: TORCHWOOD

Torchwood is a British television science fiction and crime drama created by Russell T. Davies and commissioned by the BBC as a spin-off of the long-running science fiction series Doctor Who. An in-house BBC Wales production for digital television station BBC Three, it is the first television spin-off of Doctor Who since the unsuccessful pilot of K-9 and Company in 1981 and the first to be commissioned for a full 13-part series. The title "Torchwood" is an anagram of "Doctor Who." BBC Wales Head of Drama Julie Gardner will serve as executive producer alongside Davies. Torchwood is set to premiere in Autumn 2006 on BBC Three.

Torchwood is to be set in contemporary Cardiff, and features a group of "renegade" criminal investigators. Aside from investigating human and alien crime, they are also charged by the British government to covertly investigate alien technology without the knowledge of the United Nations. Confirmed writers include P.J. Hammond, creator of the cult 1980s ATV science fiction series Sapphire & Steel, and Chris Chibnall, creator of the BBC light drama series Born and Bred. According to the December 2005 issue of SFX, Russell T. Davies will write just two of the 13 episodes.

In the announcement, on October 17, 2005, BBC Three controller Stuart Murphy said "Torchwood is sinister and psychological... as well as being very British and modern and real." Davies himself has characterised the series concept as "a dark, clever, wild, sexy, British crime/sci-fi paranoid thriller cop show with a sense of humour — The X-Files meets This Life."

The series will star John Barrowman as Jack Harkness, one of the Ninth Doctor's companions from the 2005 season of Doctor Who. Issue 363 of Doctor Who Magazine, published in November 2005, revealed that the series would feature another regular named Gwen, and that Doctor Who director James Hawes will produce. The series will also share Doctor Who's production designer, Edward Thomas. In an interview with the magazine TV Zone, Hawes also revealed that, as well as producing, he would be the lead director for the series.

According to Davies, the name 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.

As it is scheduled to be shown post-watershed, that is after 9.00 pm, it is also expected to have more mature content than the parent series. Davies told SFX magazine, "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 7pm, and BBC Three at say, 9pm. 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 series as "Doctor Who for grown-ups." In light of the anticipated difference in tone and content, some fans have begun to regard Torchwood as the Angel to Doctor Who's Buffy [1].

Interviewed on ITV1's afternoon chat show Loose Women on 18 October 2005, Barrowman suggested that the series might be repeated on BBC One sometime after its initial BBC Three airing. He also stated that it will not be revealed in the series how Jack Harkness has arrived in the early 21st century.

On 24 October, the Scottish tabloid newspaper the Daily Record reported that singer Charlotte Church would be making an appearance in the series as a "raunchy, Satan-worshipping character". This had been reported earlier by The Daily Star. This was however denied by Russell T. Davies in Doctor Who Magazine #363.

On 11 November, msn.co.uk reported that singer Rachel Stevens had auditioned for a permanent role in Torchwood. This has not been confirmed by any official source.

In an appearance on BBC One's New Year's Eve programme, John Barrowman told an interviewer that he expected to begin filming for Torchwood in April.

References In Doctor Who

The word "Torchwood" first occurred in the 2005 Doctor Who episode Bad Wolf, during a deadly version of the game show, The Weakest Link. One of the answers was that the Great Cobalt Pyramid was built on the ruins of the famous Old Earth Torchwood Institute. On the Doctor Who homepage for the week preceding, one of the contestants came from "Torchwood" [2].

Although no crossovers with its parent series are planned, Barrowman reported on his website that the story of Torchwood would be "seeded" in the Christmas special and 2006 season of Doctor Who.

In The Christmas Invasion, Prime Minister Harriet Jones asks Major Blake of UNIT to contact Torchwood for aid in defending Earth from the Sycorax. Jones claims she is not supposed to know about them and that not even the United Nations is aware of their existence, though they have ties to the British military. Jones takes responsibility for authorising Torchwood and eventually gives the final command for them to fire on and destroy the Sycorax ship; they have access to an enormously powerful energy weapon adapted from alien technology found ten years ago in a spaceship crash. The nature and normal authority of Torchwood are left vague.

 

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