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British television: reasons to be GLAAD

Torchwood: Children of Earth

Every year, American advocacy group the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation awards films, television programmes and other forms of media that have presented fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives.

Today, the nominees for the 21st GLAAD Media Awards have been announced — and British television programmes are included in some of the categories.

EXCLUSIVE: Barrowman - meeting Smith felt like "cheating" on Tennant

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness

Next week, The Stage will be interviewing John Barrowman, known of course as Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood and Doctor Who but who is donning a very different kind of costume to play the role of Albin/Zaza in LA Cage aux Folles in the West End.

The interview will appear in print, as well as the latest in our successful range of podcasts — but we thought we’d share a snippet of Who-related chat for you as a teaser.

As Captain Jack, Barrowman has played opposite Christopher Eccleston and, most recently, David Tennant in the role of The Doctor. With Tennant’s grip on the Tardis key loosening and That Face/Moses Jones actor Matt Smith about to take up the role, Stage interview Alistair Smith asked him about the transition.

According to Barrowman:

I have met Matt. I was doing my publicity for Tonight’s the Night and Matt came in to meet the whole publicity department at the BBC. He walked over to me and went, “Captain Jack!” and we shook hands.

He actually said, “I’d love for our characters to cross paths,” and I said, “That’s really nice to hear. I’m really chuffed that you would say that.”

We sat down and talked for about 15 minutes and then he had to go off and do his thing. I turned to the publicist I work with at the BBC and I said, “I just feel like I’ve had an affair — I feel like I’ve just cheated on David behind his back!”

Then I told David and he was like, “You turncoat.” But Matt will be brilliant. Like anything, it’s different, it’s a new energy, he’s younger, he’ll bring a new twist to it.

Also in the interview, John talks about Torchwood series 4 and future appearances of Captain Jack in Doctor Who as well as revealing more about his role in Desperate Housewives. And, of course, he’ll be discussing his long overdue return to the West End.

The print version of the interview will appear in next week’s issue of The Stage, cover date October 1. A longer audio interview will be online at the same time on The Stage Podcast. To ensure you receive an audio copy automatically, you can subscribe in iTunes for free and all future podcast episodes will download automatically as soon as they are available.

Davies and Lyn talk Doctor Who and Torchwood

Over on US TV blog Televisionary, Jace has been interviewing Torchwood and Doctor Who writer/producer Russell T. Davies and director Euros Lyn. After all the Comic-Con madness and the ‘Save Ianto’ hubbub, it’s nice to hear them talk about more general matters regarding both series — and for Euros to get some attention: both Russell and John Barrowman have such large personalities that he was on the verge of being ignored at some recent press events.

The sound level’s a little low, but it’s well worth watching — although it contains some spoilers for future Doctor Who episodes.

Torchwood winners

Torchwood books, published by Ebury Publishing

As you may remember from our recent Torchwood week, we gave you the opportunity to win the three new novels from the BBC Books series, Into the Silence, Bay of the Dead and The House That Jack Built.

The draw took place last week, and copies are now on the way (if they haven’t arrived already) to Andrea Kamran of West Yorkshire and Martin Stevens of Surrey. A big thank you to everyone who entered, and an even bigger thank you to Ebury Publishing for the competition prizes.

If you were on of our many unsuccessful entrants, Amazon.co.uk is currently offering each book for £4.99 - a 29% saving on the RRP of £6.99:

Give that man a Bafta!

Now that the dust has settled on the broadcast of Torchwood: Children of Earth, I’ve finally got over the shock and been able to gather my thoughts on what proved to be a week of breathtaking television drama.

Breathtaking. Funny. Brave. Challenging. Exciting. Witty. Tense. Sickening.

What Russell T Davies and co-writers James Moran and John Fay did across five episodes was craft a Quatermass for the modern age, an intelligent slice of adult drama that, going by the ratings, engaged with a sizeable audience. It was the epitome of event television - everybody in the office has been talking about it, including colleagues who have previously been sniffy about anything science fiction related.

A hit, a very palpable hit!

A quick note on the fortunes of this week’s television event - the nightly broadcast of Torchwood: Children of Earth. There was a lot riding on this third run for Captain Jack and his team of alien investigators. Some would even say that the future of intelligent, adult science fiction on British television was at stake here.

And thankfully we can breathe a sigh of relief because the news coming in from the overnight ratings elves is cause for some celebration, and one can imagine that corks have been popping down at BBC Wales.

Children of Earth: Day One fired an opening salvo that brought in 5.9 million viewers and a 25% share across the 9pm hour. The audience rose as the episode progressed, and has proved highly popular on the iPlayer. This rating is more than likely to spill over the 6 million mark when the consolidated figures come in. Chuck in a few thousand viewers watching the BBC HD channel, and it’s looking very respectable indeed. You might not think it’s an amazing figure, but in drama terms these days, that’s paying the rent and then some.

The complete Torchwood Week

Gareth David-Lloyd, Eve Myles and John Barrowman. Image (c) BBC

It’s been a fun week producing so much Torchwood-related content. Thanks to everyone who’s enjoyed what we’ve produced and given us such great feedback, be it on the site, by email or Twitter or on the various message boards around the internet that have been linking to us.

Here’s the full list of what you may have missed (may contain spoilers):

On Monday, we kicked things off with an interview with creator, executive producer and head writer Russell T Davies. “So much has been made of how the team is “still in mourning”. There’s a half second mention! That was in a press release nine months ago, and it carries over into every bit of reportage.” Russell’s interview carried over into Tuesday: “You watch this footage from Africa, from Bosnia, as if we’re more civilised than those people, as though we’re more intelligent than them and that could never happen here…. And it’s just a lie, a complete lie.”

Then the interviews moved on to the cast. On Wednesday, we spoke to Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto): “When they first said it was going down to five episodes, I was obviously a bit put out because I was expecting a little more work, basically… but I’m more proud of this series than anything else I’ve done before.”

On Thursday, it was the turn of Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper): “We lost two awesome characters, but more importantly we lost two great friends. But that’s the nature of the job, and the nature of Torchwood.

And we finished off the week with Captain Jack himself, John Barrowman: “I’m not one of those actors who goes, ‘I can’t watch myself.’ That’s bullshit. Don’t agree with it. Why are you doing it if you can’t watch yourself?”

But of course we’ve had more than just the interviews, great though they are. On Monday, Mark looked at how the BBC website is complementing the news series. Tuesday saw the launch of our Torchwood novels competition, on Wednesday we threw the spotlight on the Radio 4 Afternoon Play series and yesterday Mark provided a Square Eyes special preview of Monday’s first episode.

That’s quite a haul. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and that it puts you in the mood for next week’s five-part serial (Monday to Friday, 9pm, BBC1). I daresay we’ll have some feedback from the TV episodes next week, but beyond that TV Today will of course continue covering the best of British drama and comedy on TV and radio. We hope you’ll stay with us.

Torchwood Week: John Barrowman

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness

Torchwood week on TV Today

And so Torchwood Week starts to draw to a close here on TV Today, with the last of our interviews. After yesterday’s talk with Eve Myles, Wednesday’s conversation with Gareth David-Lloyd and our two-part interview with Russell T Davies on Monday and Tuesday, we’ve saved the biggest, brashest player till last: John Barrowman.

As before, expect some spoilers ahead. And, as before, the questioning took place a few weeks ago after the press screening of Children of Earth: Day One — hence why there are no questions about his comments to the Radio Times.

Torchwood Week: Square Eyes Special Preview

Torchwood: Children of Earth - Day One

I’ve had a somewhat uneven history with Torchwood. The first season, broadcast in 2006, didn’t do much for me. It started well enough, but within a few episodes had descended into a juvenile mess that really didn’t become the pedigree of the people making it. Cyberwoman still ranks as one of my most hated 45 minutes of drama ever made (which makes me feel bad now, with writer Chris Chibnall doing some sterling work on the recently recommissioned Law and Order: UK). I think it was a problem with identity, and early Torchwood was trying on different hats to see what fit.

By the end of the first season, things had settled down somewhat, with the final two episodes of the season showing some of the promise that was to come.

Season two was a stellar leap forward in terms of style and consistency. The tone was less forced and the writers knew the characters better. There was less emphasis on bolting on self-conscious adult content and it got on with telling good stories - Owen’s journey throughout the season being particularly well thought out. There were some stumbles, but nothing’s perfect, and this season finished with a brace of episodes that were action-packed and shocking in places - even if the lad playing Jack’s brother had more wood than Epping Forest.

And now we come to Children of Earth, effectively being Torchwood’s coming of age - it’s in the big league now, playing out on BBC1 over five nights. Many Torchwood fans are seeing this as a slight to the show, some kind of punishment and that it’s a sure sign of the BBC wanting to kill it off. Which is, obviously, nonsense (although star John Barrowman takes a different view).

Children of Earth: Day One, is a calm, considered, intelligently played and chilling piece of drama that sets up things for coming four episodes. It helps that this marks Russell T Davies’s return to Torchwood, a series he created, as scriptwriter for the first time since Everything Changes. And it shows…

Torchwood Week: Eve Myles

Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper in Torchwood: Children of Earth

Torchwood week on TV Today

And so, as we enter into the home straight of our Torchwood Week here on TV Today, we follow up yesterday’s interview with Gareth David-Lloyd with a sit-down with Eve Myles, who plays Gwen Cooper.

As with Gareth’s interview (and our two-part talk with Russell T Davies on Monday and Tuesday) the interview took place directly after the press screening of Children of Earth: Day One.

And more than any other interview in this series, we couldn’t avoid talking about certain aspects of that episode which impact upon both Gwen and Eve. So be warned — plenty of spoilers ahead

Torchwood on radio: What did you think of Asylum?

Torchwood: Asylum, BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play

Torchwood week on TV Today

So the first of three Radio 4 Afternoon Plays featuring Cardiff’s least secret top-secret organisation, Torchwood: Asylum, has just finished. If you missed it, it’ll be available on iPlayer for seven days, and for UK licence fee payers is available as an MP3 download for the same period.

So what did you think?

Caution: if you haven’t heard the play yet, proceeding further may reveal spoilers…

Torchwood Week: Gareth David-Lloyd

Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones

Torchwood week on TV Today

As part of our ongoing week of interviews and features about BBC1 science fiction drama Torchwood, today we interview Gareth David-Lloyd, who plays Ianto Jones.

As with our previous interview with the show’s writer and producer Russell T Davies (read part 1 and part 2), the conversation does include spoilers for next week’s five-part story, Children of Earth — as well as some minor spoilers for the series of Afternoon Plays on Radio 4, the first of which airs today at 2.15pm.

For that reason, we won’t start the interview until after the jump.

For all our Torchwood-related features and the chance to win three Torchwood novels, go to http://thestage.co.uk/torchwood.

Torchwood Week: Win a set of Torchwood novels

Torchwood books, published by Ebury Publishing

We know that Torchwood is not only a success on television. As we highlighted in our weekly radio preview, the brand is also spreading onto radio — but since the series’ inception, BBC Books has been publishing a series of original novels featuring the staff of Cardiff’s least secret top-secret organisation.

Three new novels have just been published to coincide with the broadcast of Children of Earth — and we have two sets to give away to lucky TV Today readers!

Torchwood Week: Russell T Davies, part 2

Torchwood: Children of Earth

Torchwood week on TV Today

Previously on Torchwood Week: Russell T Davies, creator of Torchwood and head writer of the new series Children of Earth, talked about the way the storytelling changes as a result of the new five-episode, single-story format and the demands of hiring so many children.

As before, do beware: more so than yesterday’s interview, this interview does contain spoilers about the events in Children of Earth.


The relationship between Jack and Ianto is really brought to the fore in this story. Was that a conscious effort to get a gay relationship into primetime BBC1?

I didn’t think of it in those terms, really. Personally, it’s just because I’m interested in that story. I’m fascinated by how Ianto used to have a fiancee, so I just had stuff to say about it. So, it’s not me going, “I must put this on BBC1.” I wouldn’t blink about putting it on on BBC1, but nobody was stopping me put it on BBC1, either.

I think it’s much more about relationships. It’s more intimate, which then becomes more resonant, really. So it’s always important to me to write that, but so important I don’t ever think about it. I’m not sitting there thinking, I must do this.

However, I like to see someone coming out to his sister when he’s not even sure what he is, and even he doesn’t know what’s going to happen, or anything. I like that scene. I’ll always write that sort of thing.

There are elements of Bob and Rose in there, too.

Yes, same issues, I suppose. Both of them defy labels, which is always true.

The Torchwood SUV gets written out in episode 1, although we’ll refrain from talking about how that happens. Was that part of a decision to ground the Torchwood team in a reality where they can interact with the public in a more realistic way?

I’ve never had a problem with those interactions. It’s funnier, in a way. I love Doctor Rupesh finding Torchwood because, as he says, if anyone asks about Torchwood they just point towards the bay! I like that.

Torchwood Week: Torchwood Online

The Torchwood website

In honour of this being Torchwood Week here at TV Today, to get the ball rolling I thought I’d take a quick look at the nicely executed Torchwood website - the beginning of the Children of Earth experience for viewers ahead of next Monday’s launch.

What I like about the Torchwood website is its lack of fuss - it’s very much a what you see is what you get affair that has the latest BBC1 trailer front and centre for your viewing pleasure (a second trailer having gone live today). There are no fancy flash animations here, just a clearly designed site that doesn’t overload the senses

From here, you can then click through to separate sections covering Characters, Behind the Scenes, Gallery and a section on the previous series for new fans to catch up with the adventures of Capt Jack and co.

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