Torchwood: outside the government, beyond the police. Fighting for the future on behalf of the human race. The 21st century is when everything changes, and Torchwood is ready.
Back in 2006, following the revival of Doctor Who the previous year, BBC announced that they had commissioned a brand new spin-off, featuring popular companion Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). Created by Russell T Davies and airing in a post-watershed slot on BBC Three, the show pushed the limits of Doctor Who’s universe and introduced themes not seen in the parent show.
Featuring an all-star cast comprising of Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones, Naoko Mori as Toshiko Sato and Burn Gorman as Owen Harper – Torchwood explored the long term issues of The Doctor’s time travel. Torchwood was first mentioned in Doctor Who’s second series, with the institute being set up by Queen Victoria to protect the Earth from alien threat. The conclusion of the series saw the Battle of Canary Wharf between Cybermen and Daleks at Torchwood 1 in London, which was later destroyed.
Torchwood itself picks up after the battle in Torchwood 3, Cardiff. After being set up in the parent show, Torchwood only crosses back over a handful of times. The first being Freema Agyeman’s companion, Martha Jones, making a four episode appearance in Series 2 before Torchwood appeared alongside The Sarah Jane Adventures in Doctor Who’s fourth series finale.
Torchwood pushed the limits of anything seen in the Doctor Who universe. With hard hitting themes including Existentialism, the corrupting nature of power and mainstream LGBT characters, which at the time, was fairly uncommon in drama series, Torchwood set the level for future series.
Torchwood was hit with positive and negative reviews right from its conception, with the third series (Children of Earth) described as “powerful human drama”. The series itself went on to beat Doctor Who in winning a BAFTA Cymru Award for Best Drama Series.
However, why did the show end in the first place? In 2011, Torchwood’s fourth series became a co-production between BBC and Starz TV in America, losing part of what made Torchwood the hard hitting drama it was. With its parent series now in the hands of a new show runner, Torchwood was placed on an indefinite hiatus. Now is the perfect time to see the team return to our screens.
Torchwood’s return is something that has been called for by fans and the cast for an extremely long time. Torchwood is not only popular within the UK but has developed an international following around the globe. Torchwood held the key to the most diverse series Doctor Who’s franchise had ever seen. Giving viewers relatable characters and realistic expectations was part of the success and is something that television is severely lacking in.
Not only down to the themes, Torchwood’s episodes were some beautiful pieces of Welsh engineering, really showing what BBC Wales has got to offer. Demonstrating real talent with the way the programme was edited and pulled together with clever angles, sets and of course the music – composed by the fantastic Ben Foster and Murray Gold.
General reasons for the return also include that Torchwood bridged the gap between Doctor Who series and also gave us a real insight into the chaos The Doctor causes on Earth and leaves behind. Torchwood also put Cardiff on the world map, causing large amounts of visitors to the bay area where the series was shot, helping tourism in that area and helping local businesses. Most recently, the Doctor Who Experience has installed a Torchwood display to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show.
Torchwood is currently alive in the form of Big Finish audio dramas featuring members of the television cast, with diverse and exciting stories. These stories would easily have worked on screen and it is a shame that they weren’t made for broadcast. However, the audio dramas are a work of art and I do highly recommend them.
John Barrowman most recently stated that there were “certain egos” blocking the BBC making a Torchwood television return, while Eve Myles has openly said many times that she would happily step back into the shoes of Gwen Cooper. In reality, nothing is stopping the BBC bringing back this ever popular series. Considering the ending of the fourth series, Torchwood can easily pick up where it left off, bringing the series back to Cardiff and continuing and rebuilding.
In the meantime, we can continue to hope. Supporting Torchwood through the ongoing audio drama series and comic books to prove its popularity may the only way to get the BBC to listen in the long run.
By Jarrod Jones