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“Torchwood: outside the government, beyond the police; tracking down alien life on Earth, and arming the human race against the future. The Twenty-First Century is when it all changes. And you’ve gotta be ready.” – Captain Jack Harkness

‘Torchwood’ follows the adventures of a team of investigators from the top-secret organisation known as the Torchwood Institute. Working separately from the government, outside the police and above the United Nations, the team utilise captured alien technology to defend the Earth from extraterrestrial threat, and to solve crimes both human – and alien. The team is led by the dashing Captain Jack Harkness, a Time Agent from the Fifty-First Century, and comprises of Owen Harper, the cocky and oversexed medic; Toshiko Sato, who specialises in all things technical; impeccably-dressed receptionist-administrator Ianto Jones; and Gwen Cooper, a policewoman whose dogged curiosity led her to uncover the truth behind the shadowy organisation that she eventually joined.

The Torchwood Institute was originally founded by Queen Victoria, following the events at Torchwood House in the Scottish Highlands in 1879. After encountering a mysterious man known as the Doctor and his assistant, Rose, the Queen and her party were captured by a band of warrior monks and terrorised by a vicious alien werewolf – a terrifying experience which prompted the queen to found an institute to investigate and fight supernatural threats. Over the years, Torchwood has retrieved and studied extraterrestrial artefacts and technology that has found its way to Earth; helped defeat attacks from alien races such as the Sycorax, the Cybermen and the Daleks; and kept a record of any sightings of the enigmatic time-traveller called the Doctor…

‘Torchwood’ was created by the prolific Russell T Davies, and is a spin-off from ‘Doctor Who’, the show that Davies successfully revived and transformed into the BBC’s award-winning flagship programme. However, unlike its parent, ‘Torchwood’ is aimed at a post-watershed audience, enabling it to be much darker, grittier, swearier and sexier – as Davies puts it, a “sci-fi paranoid thriller, a cop show with a sense of humour”. Combining these elements with slick visuals and smart direction succeeded in giving the show a style that set it apart from traditional ‘Doctor Who’ (even managing to make the show’s main location, Cardiff, look like Los Angeles), although the scripts still included enough references to bring a knowing smile to any ‘Doctor Who’ fans watching!

The success of the first season of ‘Torchwood’ on BBC 3 led to a second season, which this time premiered on BBC 2; of note was the guest appearance of Freema Agyeman, reprising her role as ‘Doctor Who’ assistant Martha Jones, and also the shocking death of two of the main characters, Toshiko Sato and Owen Harper. A third season followed in 2009, which comprised of a single five-part story, ‘Children of Earth’, this time shown on BBC 1 stripped across five consecutive nights as ‘event television’; this story met with much critical acclaim, and is generally regarded as ‘Torchwood’ at its very best, even though many fans objected to the death of yet another cast member, Ianto Jones. A fourth season was shown in 2011, the ten-part ‘Miracle Day’, which was made as a co-production between BBC Cymru Wales, BBC Worldwide and American channel Starz Entertainment; however, although it benefitted from much higher production values, the story suffered from being overlong, and consequently was not as well-received as previous seasons.

Whilst it is unclear whether or not a fifth season of ‘Torchwood’ will be commissioned, the various novels and audio plays continue to be released by the BBC, ensuring that we haven’t seen the last of the adventures of the surviving members of Torchwood, Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper…

The Torchwood Institute itself was first referred to in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode 'Bad Wolf', and seen in action (albeit off-screen) in 'The Christmas Invasion'; a 'prelude' was seen in 'Tooth and Claw', and many subsequent episodes in Season 28 contained references to the organisation. The cross-overs continued with the Doctor's former companion, Martha Jones, appearing in three episodes of 'Torchwood' Season Two, whilst Captain Jack, Gwen and Ianto appeared in the 'Doctor Who' episodes 'The Stolen Earth' and 'Journey's End'. It is worth noting the name “Torchwood” is actually an anagram of “Doctor Who”, an in-joke as Russell T Davies used the name 'Torchwood' as a security measure during the production of 'Doctor Who', to disguise preview tapes of the first episodes.

'Torchwood' - Season 1
'Torchwood' - Season 2
'Torchwood' - Season 3: 'Children of Earth'
'Torchwood' - Season 4: 'Miracle Day'

My visit to BBC Cardiff in June 2007...


'Doctor Who' Episode Guide

'The Sarah Jane Adventures' Episode Guide


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Legal Bit: 'Torchwood' and 'Doctor Who' are registered trademarks of BBC Worldwide. The 'Torchwood' and 'Doctor Who' logos and all images from the television series are copyright BBC unless otherwise stated; no copyright infringement is intended. All specially created images and text are copyright © Clive Banks; please do not use these without my permission. All rights reserved. No profit is made from this website, and any revenue made from using the banner-links featured goes straight back into the costs of maintaining it, which comes out of my own pocket in the first place. No profit advertising is accepted. This website was created purely to entertain and amuse, and any references to persons living, dead, comatose, in suspended animation, regenerated, not born yet, or a figment of someone's imagination is purely coincidental. All opinions expressed are my own, so there...


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