Torchwood - the TV Series

2 Conversations

Torchwood is a science-fiction television drama created by Russell T Davies. It is set in Cardiff in the present day and features a top secret organization who work to broaden human knowledge of alien life and technology.

Some spoilers are present in this entry.

Torchwood Institute

'If it's alien - it's ours.'

Torchwood Institute, the fictional organization about which the programme is centred, was introduced in an episode of long-running sci-fi drama Doctor Who, named Tooth and Claw. It was founded by Queen Victoria at the Torchwood Estate in Scotland, in 1879. Its purpose was to protect the British Empire from enemies 'beyond imagination'.

Surviving throughout the 1900's, and in many different forms, there have been three organisations operating as Torchwood. Torchwood One was destroyed by the Cybermen and Daleks during the Battle of Canary Wharf in the final episodes of series two of Doctor Who, but details of the work of Torchwood in the 20th Century and the existence of Torchwood Two have not been disclosed. The organization featured in Torchwood is Torchwood Three, based in Cardiff.

The Team

  • Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) - this is not his real name, rather an alias stolen from a World War Two American soldier, living in London during the Blitz. After the death of this soldier, Captain Jack took his identity. Captain Jack is the leader of Torchwood in Cardiff. Captain Jack was first introduced in Doctor Who, during the 2005 series. At that time, he was posing as an American soldier while conning the Doctor and Rose into buying a useless spaceship. he continued to travel with the Doctor and Rose throughout the Christopher Ecclestone series, and returned to Doctor Who in the episode Utopia of Series Three. During his travels with the Doctor and Rose, Captain Jack was killed by Daleks at Satelite Five. However, Rose, through the phenomenon of Bad Wolf, managed to bring Captain Jack back from the dead, meaning he can now never die.

  • Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori) is the computer and technical specialist of Torchwood Institute. Greeks Bearing Gifts deals with Toshiko's frustration after receiving a pendant which enables her to hear people's thoughts - she battles with her own emotions and the morals of such a gift.

  • Dr Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) is the medical specialist, and second in command. In the episode Out of Time, he falls in love with a woman from 1953, who arrived in the present day due to a fault in the rift. This is Owen's darkest and most moving hour.

  • Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) is in charge of administration. Deals with the paperwork, and makes coffee. He enjoys a sepcial relationship with Captain Jack, one which frustrates them both. Ianto comes close to leaving Torchwood Institute in the episode Cyberwoman, when he puts the team and the city of Cardiff in danger from deadly Cyberman attack.

  • Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) is Torchwood's newest recruit. Promoted from the police force to Torchwood in episode one of the first series.

Creation and Production

Torchwood is the brainchild of Doctor Who producer Russell T Davies. Davies claims he had the idea for the programme long before the plans to bring back Doctor Who in 2005, but the return of such a sci-fi classic provided the perfect setting for a newer, darker, more adult drama for the BBC. With an excellent group of writers, and executive producer Julie Gardner, who had also worked on the new series of Doctor Who, Torchwood was created.

The programme began filming on May 1, 2006, with filming continuing until just before the first episode was aired, according to John Barrowman. The project was to be produced originally by James Hawes, previously a director on Doctor Who. However, Hawes decided that directing was his true passion, and so turned down the role as producer, leaving Richard Stokes in control.

Directors for the Torchwood series are as follows:

  • Everything Changes, Day One - Brian Kelly.
  • Ghost Machine and Greeks Bearing Gifts - Colin Teague.
  • Cyberwoman and They Keep Killing Suzie - James Strong
  • Small Worlds and Out of Time - Alice Troughton.
  • Countrycide and Combat - Andy Goddard
  • Random Shoes - James Erskine
  • Captain Jack Harkness and End of Days - Ashley Way.

Episode Guide

The first series, aired from October 22 2006, began with a double-bill and had a total of 13 episodes. Each episode was aired on BBC Three on a Sunday evening, repeated during the week on BBC Two.

Everything Changes

The first episode, written by creator Russel T Davies, focuses on Gwen Cooper, working as a Police Constable in Cardiff. At the scene of a brutal murder, she witnesses Torchwood, known only to her as "special-ops", bring the victim back to life. She is determined to find out more about the mysterious organization, but soon regrets her persistance after meeting Captain Jack Harkness, who forces her to srink an alien drug which erases her memory. After discovering a series of clues which jog her memory, she meets Suzie Costello1 and Captain Jack in an climax which results in the suicide of Suzie and the startling ressurection of Jack.

Day One

Written by Chris Chibnall, this episode faces Gwen with her first task in Torchwood. While carrying out tests on a comet which has landed just outside the city, Gwen damages the surface of the comet, releasing an unusual gas which flies into the city, possessing the body of a young girl in a busy Cardiff nightclub. The alien inside her feeds on sexual energy, forcing its host to find power to support it. In doing this, however, the girl leaves a trail of victims across the city.

Ghost Machine

Chasing a hoodie through the lamp-lit streets of Cardiff, Gwen seizes the jacket of Sean "Bernie" Harris, a teenager who found alien technology in the garage of an old man. In the pocket of the jacket, Gwen discovers the Ghost Machine, which gives the team a startling series of visions of the past and future. Owen witnesses the scene of a murder in the 1960s, and takes it upon himself to bring justice to the villain. Meanwhile, the rest of the team track down Bernie Harris, who has been haunted too by the device. Outside Bernie's flat, it looks like Gwen's vision of a murder that night is to come true. In stopping one murder, she becomes responsible for another.


At the end of Doctor Who, series two, Cybermen attacked Torchwood One in the Battle of Canary Wharf. Ianto Jones, who was working at Torchwood One at the time, saved his girlfriend during her 'upgrade' from human to Cyberman. Ianto has been secretly keeping his unconscious Cyberwoman girlfriend, named Lisa, and the cyber-conversion unit in the basement of the Torchwood Hub. After a visit from a Japanese doctor, Lisa is revived and begins attacking the doctor, attaching him to the cyber-conversion unit and starting his upgrade. The resulting power drain forces the team to put the Hub into lockdown to contain Lisa.

Small Worlds

Jack is reunited with an old friend of his - he first met Estelle during his life in London during the Blitz. Now, in the present day, Estelle is told that the Captain she meets is merely the father of the Jack Harkness she befriended all those years ago. The pair meet at a lecture given by Estelle, detailing her belief in fairies. An intelligent but secretive girl, named Jasmine is being protected by the fairies, who punish her playground bullies and kill a man who attempts to kidnap her. As Torchwood investigates, Captain Jack realises he has seen the symptoms of fairy attack before - asphyxiation by red petals. The fairies reveal that they need Jasmine to become one of them; and despite the fear and anguish of her family, Jasmine leaves her mother to join the group of fairies.


While investigating the dissappearance of a woman in the Brecon Beacons, Gwen, Jack and Owen discover a terrified teenager hidden in a farmhouse, hiding from certain death. Meanwhile, Ianto and Toshiko discover a farmhouse full of human corpses, and are captured by villagers who intend to make the Torchwood team their next victims. The villagers turn out to be a group of caniballs who have harvested visitors to the area once a decade for generations. The terrible events bring Owen and Gwen closer together, despite Gwen's longterm relationship.

Greeks Bearing Gifts

Toshiko is given a pendant which enables her to hear the thoughts of other people. Her new gift forces her to delve into and analyse the morality of the power, as well as her own sexuality and position within the group. After Toshiko confides in a girlfriend who is revealed to be an alien using her to get into Torchwood, the issue of mistrust and privacy causes divisions throughout the group. Gwen has to question her relationship with Owen.

They Keep Killing Suzie

After being called to the scene of a gruesome movie aimed at Torchwood, the team are forced to bring Suzie, who was killed in episode one, back from the dead, to question her on the murder. It is revealed that Suzie 'hypnotized' a man to perform the murders on her death, meaning she would be brought back to life in desperation by her colleagues. However, to keep her alive, the life is being drained from Gwen, and Jack steps in to save Gwen from losing her life.

Random Shoes

Eugene wakes up to find himself both dead and invisible, and discovers only Gwen Cooper can help him sort out his strange problem.

Out of Time

A plane from the 1950s lands in present day Cardiff, forcing Torchwood to look after its passengers and help them adapt to a frightening, modern world.


Weevils, an alien introduced in episode one, are being abducted by humans across the capital. Owen sets out to investigate what is going on.

Captain Jack Harkness

Stranded in 1941, Jack and Toshiko meet a handsome young American squadron leader who goes by the name of... Captain Jack Harkness.

End of Days

The rift - a door in time running through the centre of Cardiff - spreads and opens up, letting through terrifying visions of the past and future to the present day. Can Captain Jack save the world?

Torchwood and Doctor Who

Torchwood has been closely linked with Doctor Who since the conception of the return of the long-running sci-fi series in 2005. Indeed, it was due to the success of Doctor Who's return that the BBC commissioned the series, attempting to create a more adult sci-fi programme in competition with other popular yet largely American programmes such as Battlestar Galactica.

Captain Jack was first introduced in the episode The Empty Child of the 2005 series of Doctor Who, where, as an intergalactic conman, he posed as an American fighter pilot whilst trying to sell a useless spaceship to the Doctor and Rose. He continued to travel with the Doctor and Rose throughout the first series, and finally left their company in The Christmas Invasion, broadcast Christmas Day, 2005.

It is thought that after leaving the Doctor, Captain Jack founded Torchwood Three in Cardiff. The Torchwood series included many references to Jack's time in Doctor Who, and it is likely that the Doctor inspired Captain Jack to work with Torchwood after he could no longer work as the Doctor's companion.

Captain Jack next appears in Doctor Who during the espisode Utopia of the 2007 series. He is shown running infront of the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay towards the TARDIS2, where the Doctor has landed in order to refuel using the energy of the Rift. It is probable that this moment is a continuation of events during the last episode of Torchwood, where Jack hears the sound of the TARDIS's engines and runs to find its source. On arriving at the TARDIS, Jack clutches to the outside of the spaceship, and is taken by the TARDIS to the planet of Malcassairo.

From this point on, Captain Jack continues to travel with the Doctor and his new companion, Martha, for the remainder of the series. It is briefly explained that Jack's colleagues at Torchwood have been falsely tipped off by the Master3 and are currently in the Himalayas.


  • Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who, and the word was used to label tapes of future episodes of Doctor Who, in order to put would-be plotline theives off the scent.

  • The hand, kept in a jar in the Torchwood Hub, is the severed hand of the Doctor, cut off during a sword fight in The Christmas Invasion, an episode of Doctor Who starring David Tennant.

  • The opening episodes of Torchwood on BBC Three attracted over one million viewers, beating the record for most viewing figures for a digital-only broadcast.

  • According to Barrowman, the programme will return for at least second series, probably appearing in 2008. The new series will be aired on BBC Two.

Other Torchwood Publications

Three volumes of the Torchwood first series have been released, including special features of behind the scenes footage and cast interviews

A series of novels based on the main characters of the series, have been published by BBC Books. Several different authors have contributed titles to the series.

On the internet, the official Torchwood website has an episode guide, pictures, videos and special features. The website enables fans to explore the mainframe of Torchwood's intelligence system, and was created by the BBC as promotion for the series.

1A member of Torchwood for only the first episode2The Doctor's time-travelling spaceship3The Master of the Time Lords, the main villain towards the end of Doctor Who Series Three

Bookmark on your Personal Space



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Written and Edited by


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more