Captain Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones return for a brand-new adventure in Torchwood – Children Of Earth, a new five-part series for BBC One.
An ordinary day becomes a world of terror, as every single child in the world stops. A message is sent to all the governments of Earth: "We are coming".
But as a trap closes around Captain Jack, sins of the past are returning, as long-forgotten events from 1965 threaten to reveal an awful truth.
Torchwood are forced underground, as the government takes swift and brutal action. With members of the team being hunted down, Britain risks becoming a rogue state, with the mysterious and powerful 456 drawing ever closer.
Captain Jack (John Barrowman), Gwen (Eve Myles) and Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) are helpless, as events escalate until humankind faces the end of civilisation itself.
Due to the popularity of the series, Torchwood has made a swift move from BBC Three to BBC Two, with the new instalment, Torchwood – Children Of Earth, finding itself on BBC One.
In one epic story, told over five episodes, the new series promises to be Torchwood's greatest adrenalin-fuelled, high-octane adventure to date. As they battle against the odds, do they stand a chance of saving humankind?
Torchwood – Children Of Earth is executive produced by Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner. The producer is Peter Bennett.
Torchwood – Children Of Earth is written by Russell T Davies, John Fay (Mobile, Clocking Off, Coronation Street) and James Moran (Doctor Who, Torchwood) and directed by Euros Lyn (best director in Bafta Cymru TV Awards, Doctor Who, George Gently).
Torchwood – Children Of Earth is a BBC Wales for BBC Drama production.
Captain Jack Harkness – John Barrowman
Gwen Cooper – Eve Myles
Ianto Jones – Gareth David-Lloyd
Rhys Williams – Kai Owen
John Frobisher – Peter Capaldi
Clem – Paul Copley
Bridget Spears – Susan Brown
Lois Habiba – Cush Jumbo
Johnson – Liz May Brice
Mr Dekker – Ian Gelder
Brian Green PM – Nicholas Farrell
Alice Carter – Lucy Cohu
Lead writer (episode 1, 3 and 5): Russell T Davies
Writers: John Fay (episodes 2 and 4) and James Moran (episode 3)
Directed by Euros Lyn
Produced by Peter Bennett
Executive producers: Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner
How did you come up with the concept for this new series?
"It was a story I'd had in mind for ages – I'm just glad the BBC gave me a canvas big enough to tell the tale!
"But underneath the sci-fi and the aliens there's something very relevant to the world, I hope, the way we sit in the West and watch footage of atrocities in different countries and imagine it's all so far away, and so impossible here – which is a nice, comfy lie we tell ourselves. That was the heart of it.
"I wanted to tell a story in which civilisation snaps, in which we turn on ourselves, in which nothing is safe. Plenty of people live like that on this planet. In this story, it's Britain's turn!"
Torchwood – Children Of Earth feels very epic. Did you enjoy writing the one storyline over five episodes?
"I loved it, because it was a huge challenge. Lots of thrillers are written by just one writer, but we had three, across five episodes – which meant a lot of emailing and late-night phonecalls! But we really worked as a team, all locked in one room, to thrash out the storyline and create the characters, and that's my favourite way of working.
"We also had the producer and director inside the Writer's Room, right from the very start, which is a very unusual way of working in this country, but with huge results – it meant we were all focused, we all knew the tone and the ambition of the piece and we all aimed in the same direction."
The children of Earth are key to this storyline. Do you think using children is scarier than the actual alien?
"They just touch a nerve. A threat to our children gets a primal reaction out of all of us. But beyond that, I think we can be scared of our kids, too.That they can seem unknowable, unreachable – that's why a gang of young hoodies can seem more unnerving than an adult gang of thugs."
Do people need to know the back story to Torchwood to be able to enjoy this new series?
"No, not at all – there are fleeting references to the past but, from the moment it starts, we're telling a brand-new story. It's been deliberately written so that no-one will be lost – and, at the same time, the faithful viewer will discover so much more about the members of the Torchwood team! There are plenty of rewards for the long-term fan!"
The 456 is Torchwood's most fierce threat to date. How do you think the team deal with the situation?
"This whole story tears Torchwood down and then watches them rebuild, but always questioning them, asking what sort of heroes they are, how far will they go? And what's the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist?
"At the same time, we get to know Jack, Gwen and Ianto more intimately than we ever have before – exploring their families, their history, their hopes and loves and their failings, too.
"As the alien threat gets bigger, so Torchwood's humanity is exposed, and threatened, and celebrated, too. And their lives are on the line – none of them are safe!"
Tell us more about the 456.
"The size of this story, and the scale of it – spread across more than 40 years of history – means that we needed something bigger, a threat with real intelligence, a race with different protocols and standards.
"Some of my favourite material comes from episode three, where we have to see the government engage in genuine diplomatic relations with an alien species. You watch those scenes thinking: 'That's what it would really be like!'"
There are some fantastic guest stars in this series. What do you think they add to the series?
"Just pure class! It's a joy, an absolute joy, to work with actors of this calibre.Writing's easy, compared to the task of standing there, saying this stuff, in a whacking great close-up!
"But we've got great new talent like Cush Jumbo, as Lois – the innocent secretary who discovers state secrets on her computer – and wonderful stars such as Peter Capaldi, who makes his character of John Frobisher so detailed and so nuanced, and so heartbreaking in the end.
"Add to that Susan Brown, as Bridget Spears – keep an eye on her, she's a slow burner – and Nicholas Farrell as the most clever and manipulative Prime Minister you could imagine. And then there's Liz May Brice as a truly ruthless assassin!
"We've also got Paul Copley as Clem, a character holding so many secrets from the past – Paul's simply astonishing to work with.
"And then the greatest enigma of the whole series is Lucy Cohu, playing Alice, who's no less than Captain Jack's daughter… What a mix! It's the best cast I could have imagined!"
The relationship between Captain Jack and Ianto has developed. Was that something you'd be planning for a while?
"Not planning, as such, it just grew naturally out of the scripts and performances from John and Gareth. And it's such a rich area – the sheer will-they-or-won't-they tension of two men getting closer.
"But, again, you can come to Torchwood as a new viewer and follow their relationship from the start – you won't get lost! And it's honestly a pleasure to write for two such fine actors – they make the whole process a delight."
You recreate scenes of devastation in the middle of Cardiff Bay. Did you watch the filming of that?
"Oh, I stay away from filming, it terrifies me – far too much like hard work! But I did pop down to the Bay to see some of the devastation – and, as ever, a lot of it is plain old camera trickery! By choosing the right angles, and by adding beautiful FX shots, we were able to make the damage look a lot worse than it is. You can go down to Cardiff Bay today, and it isn't even scratched!"
As the future of the human race hangs in the balance, Torchwood faces death and destruction and battles to protect the human race. After the potentially apocalyptic encounter, will Torchwood and the human race ever be the same again?
"Anybody who loves science fiction or a good drama will fall in love with Torchwood," says John. "It's action-packed, it's sexy, it's exciting, it's an emotional roller-coaster and you just want to sit back and get ready for the ride of your life."
Torchwood are a team of people who are fighting for the best interest of humanity; they are no strangers to the daily threat alien forces pose to the safety of the Earth. But, this time, they must fight with every ounce of instinct and energy they have to survive.
Of the new format to this year's series, John Barrowman, who plays lead character Captain Jack Harkness, says: "It's changed in the respect that in series one we were crawling, series two we were walking and now series three we're running.
"We know what Torchwood is and we know what it's about – it's full of drama and action.
"This storyline is one of the darker Torchwood storylines. Every time you turn a corner you don't know what's going to happen. And when you watch episode one you're going to want to see two, and when you've seen two you'll want to see three. You're just going to want more and more and more.
"You'll learn a lot about the characters in ways that you've never known them before. If you like relationships then you're going to see the difference in Jack and Ianto's relationship and Gwen and Rhys's – but you're also going to see the similarities.
"The characters have evolved in ways because we're learning new things about them. It makes it really interesting for us to play as actors, and for the audience every episode will bring a new revelation."
The new show format is also something John thinks will prove entertaining to the audience.
"I think the one storyline works perfectly for this series – it's epic, it is pacy."
The series will also reveal that one of the Torchwood team is hiding a dark secret – a potential catalyst for even more action-packed drama.
"One of the team is hiding a secret that will be a revelation to a lot of people – not only to the viewers watching but to the team itself. It will be very uncomfortable for the characters. And people watching it will question why they did it. Will they be able to understand why they did it?
"But, as in all things with science fiction, as a series, we can touch on subjects that are not touched upon in a number of other dramas."
The new threat faced by the team takes on a sinister theme using the children of Earth as a conduit.
"Anything that involves children doing stuff they are not supposed to be doing is creepy," says John. "I let my parents watch episode one and two with me, and watched their reaction. Normally they would get up during a show and have a drink or go to the bathroom, but they didn't move. My mum and dad – who are my biggest critics – were glued to the screen.
"We finished watching it and the following morning my dad turned to me and said: 'When are we watching three?' If they don't like something I do then they will say it. They absolutely loved this."
Eve Myles landed her dream role in 2006 when she was given the part of feisty Gwen Cooper in Torchwood, which Russell T Davies created especially for her.
"I was so excited when I got the scripts," says Eve. "It's a five-hour, psychological, action-packed thriller. With a movie, you're looking at maybe 90 minutes of action but, with this new series of Torchwood, we've got five hours.
"It's an event. It's not just the third series where everybody is used to what Torchwood is – this series will actually terrify people.
"The pace increases from the word go. The first episode is an establisher and, by the second episode, you don't know what the hell has hit you. The third, the fourth and the fifth go at such a pace."
For Eve, the new series and the single storyline across all five episodes felt like the right evolution for Torchwood as it makes its debut on BBC One.
"We've tipped the series on its head and given people a whole new format. It's a completely different style of Torchwood, and is exactly what we should have done. It feels brand new all over again. It's exciting and it's positive."
Of Gwen's role in the team she says: "Gwen is still the heart and emotion of Torchwood, but also realises the responsibility she has as a member of the team. Everybody's got to lose something to gain something, and as harsh as Gwen comes across sometimes, if she wasn't, people would die.
"She's got a huge responsibility on her shoulders. A few years ago she was working as a young policewoman in Cardiff. A couple of years later here she is saving the world with Captain Jack. One way or another something's got to give."
Viewers will see Gwen forge a close relationship with Clem, played by Paul Copley – the survivor of a horrific ordeal who is still haunted by his past.
The scenes she filmed with him proved to be a major highlight for the actress from Ystradgynlais.
"He's absolutely fantastic. I was completely overwhelmed – he's so right for the character. Gwen inevitably becomes his guardian because that's what Gwen does – she's Torchwood's social worker. She's a social worker that can run and fight and stand in her own corner and win.
"With Clem she has this incredible desire to protect him. She's his protector and he's the key to what's going on."
In contrast to the tender moments of some of the scenes she filmed, there was still plenty of high-octane action for Eve – a self-confessed adrenalin junkie.
Of the action-packed scenes, she says: "It's the best part of the job for me. It's the only job where you can really push yourself.
"We've got the most amazing team – you know you're in safe hands. You go through things a thousand times before it ever happens. In rehearsals you don't have the pyrotechnics, you don't have the explosions – so, when you actually do the take you get the realness of it, it's all genuine.
"It's real shock, fear – every kind of emotion you can think of that would come if you really were caught up in that. I'm an adrenalin junkie so it's the perfect job for me."
But for Eve, the adrenalin-fuelled action is on the back burner as she is five months pregnant.
Having just completed filming for the new BBC One drama Framed, in which she stars opposite Trevor Eve, she is now taking time out to concentrate on her pregnancy.
"I'm not working now until the baby is born. I've worked continuously recently but now it's my time to concentrate on the baby."
Gareth david Lyod
In Torchwood – Children Of Earth, the quiet coffee maker finds himself out of his comfort zone. But it doesn't take him long to find his stride and he is soon right at the heart of the action.
"I absolutely loved filming this series – there are so many scenes that are memorable," says Gareth David-Lloyd, who plays Ianto. "But the one that does come to mind is crawling through the wreckage after a huge explosion.
"We filmed it in a quarry and used real pyrotechnics. It was really hot and I had to climb up the side of this quarry. It was the first time in my career I felt like a proper action hero.
"It's one big adrenalin rush after another. I enjoyed it more than ever as I had the chance to be a bigger part of the action."
"I found the five-episode storyline effective – there's one emotional journey throughout. I think people will be more scared by this new series. There's a real seriousness to what's going on."
Although the format of the series has changed, the impact and effect of Torchwood remains the same.
"There's just as much human drama as there is sci-fi in this series," says Gareth.
"I can't wait to see the entire series. It has this race against time element to it. As each episode goes by, the pace increases and it gets faster and faster – like a roller coaster – and it's a real adrenalin ride."
As the series has developed, so has the character of Ianto Jones: "I think Ianto has changed quite a lot since the series first began because of everything that's happened to him.
"He lost everything he loved at one point, and then realised that all that was left for him was Torchwood and Jack – they had to replace the hole in his life. He's learnt to be less guarded and be more like himself – a bit more content with himself as a person."
The relationship between Captain Jack and Ianto also undergoes a transformation, with the two growing ever closer.
"It was nice to film those elements of the series. As it panned out across previous series, the relationship between Jack and Ianto has been quite organic. So it was nice that we get to the stage in series three where they are going through all the usual couple difficulties. I think the way it's been done is extremely real."
The alien threat facing the future of humanity, the 456, is nothing the team has ever encountered before. And hidden beneath the reality of the situation is the fact that one of the team is hiding a dark secret.
"I think every character goes through the process of thinking about giving up. We're lucky they don't all think about giving up at the same time! The good thing about the team is that they've got each other to pull them out of the darkness."
However fierce the alien threat, Torchwood has the additional threat of being targeted themselves – a threat that throws the team into chaos.
"I think Torchwood copes really well under threat and by episode three they're up and running again – proving how resilient they are. I think that's what makes them such a good team. They've been together for so long that they know each other inside out."
In Torchwood – Children Of Earth, Rhys Williams, played by Kai Owen, finds himself well and truly thrown in at the deep end, on the run with wife, Gwen, as government hit squads hunt them down.
Rhys is the ordinary guy in the street. He's the normal person's eyes and ears, and says what he thinks about the situations Torchwood find themselves in, bringing the reality back to them. It makes Torchwood real.
"It's fast moving – it's non-stop, no holds barred from the get-go and it gets faster and faster, building to a massive climax. It's got a lot of heart, it's sexy, it's classy. And even though it's a bit extraordinary at times it's very real. I think it has something for everybody," says Rhys.
"It's very different to the previous series. I loved the story arc. We were very used to there being different stories spread across 13 episodes – with the only constant thing being the characters. I was very excited about the scripts for this new series – even more so as Russell had written some of them.
"Every episode gets better and better. The story is so strong that people who watch the first episode will have to watch the other four."
Over the years, Rhys has become fully aware of the dangerous underworld that Torchwood inhabits. But sometimes, as Kai admits, Rhys would probably rather not actually be so involved: "I think he'd rather not get involved if he had the choice, to be honest.
"He doesn't run away from it – he's seen so many things. He's very brave and fully aware of what Gwen does and what she comes across. He also knows that she's absolutely fantastic at her job.
"Rhys wants Gwen safe. If he was sitting at home knowing that the government wanted to wipe Torchwood out, then he'd want to be with Gwen.
"I think he's happy to be more involved in this series because he knows he can keep an eye on her. But he wants to go home to his mam, really, and have a cup of tea."
Being surrounded by so many out of the ordinary events, Rhys has naturally become more aware of what's going on around him.
In this new series, his instincts kick in and he starts to put the pieces of the puzzle together at an early stage: "He's very aware of the weird happenings and what's going on around him. When Gwen phones him he knows something is up with the kids and that this is a job for 'my Gwen'. He's a lot more interested in it now. And he comes up with his own theories about what's going on with the children."
As the new series arrives on screen, Kai thinks Torchwood – Children Of Earth won't disappoint: "I think the whole concept of the series is its strength – the whole idea and concept of the five episodes, the strength of the story, Russell [T Davies], Euros [Lyn], the continuous crew and the guest cast.
"You've got the fantastic John, Eve and Gareth running the show as the lead team. It's very strong and it's very exciting."