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2009 TV Preview: 'Torchwood' returns
As you'll no doubt be aware, the third series brings with it some mighty changes. Not only has the show been upgraded from BBC Two to primetime BBC One, but for the first time the team will contend with one major storyline over the course of the series. The run has been shortened from 13 to just five episodes, but in a major gift to fans the entire series will be stripped across five consecutive days.
That's not to mention a few casting changes too! Torchwood producer Peter Bennett gives us a preview of what else series three - codenamed Torchwood: Children of Earth - has in store.
The title for this series is somewhat intriguing. What does it mean?
"Basically from a concept, we wanted to go down the children dilemma route. Because this storyline is a subject that's going to affect all the children of Earth, it was a natural title to come up with."
What's the plotline of this series?
"It's different to every other year. It's not a story about spaceships, but it's about a government that did a deal with aliens back in the '60s, and they're now dealing with the consequences of that deal when the sins of their past come back to haunt them."
What was the thinking behind switching to doing a five-episode serial?
"Having done 26 standalone stories, we kind of wanted to take this series to another level and by making it one story over five nights, we feel we've done that. It's big, it's epic, and it's very different."
It's also changed channels. How has the move to BBC One affected the tone of the show?
"Taking over a week of primetime BBC One is a big responsibility, and something none of us have done before. So we had to approach everything differently, from the way we storylined the series, to the scripting and filming, then right through to the editing. The script has a big cliffhanger and a few unexpected twists along the way. Telling one story has also given us the opportunity to have one director across the whole series, Euros Lyn, who's been incredible and taken the show to a new level."
It's been previously remarked that this new format represents a "resetting" of the show. Is that accurate?
"I guess so. This series takes Torchwood on a much darker journey, but it's still Torchwood. It's exciting, action-packed, and we've still got a lot of fun running through it."
At the end of series two we lost two of the regular cast, Owen and Tosh. How much are they missed?
"On set Burn and Naoko are missed, because they were a terrific part of the team socially and for morale. As far as the storylines are concerned, it's allowed us to see a whole new side of what's left of our regular characters and learn a whole lot more about their lives. Also we've got new characters, people like Peter Capaldi, who's fantastic as the government middle man caught up in the storm, Liz May Brice as a covert government agent and Paul Copely as a damaged man."
And are there any direct additions to the Torchwood team?
"We sort of bring in Gwen's husband Rhys (Kai Owen). He was always on the fringes anyway but he takes a much more active part in the storyline now. And we've got a new young lady who helps the team - I wouldn't say she's part of the team but she kind of helps them out. She's played by a new actress called Cush Jumbo, who's a very pretty young lady and who I'm sure is going to go on to bigger things."
John Barrowman has previously hinted that he might quit the show after this series. Do you think that's true? What do you think Torchwood would be like without Captain Jack?
"I think it would be very difficult without John. I've not heard him say he wouldn't want to stick around after a third series, so I'm not sure where that's come from. But he certainly never mentioned it to us or on set. It wouldn't be the same without him obviously. Captain Jack is a star in his own right!"
Are there individual episode titles on this series?
"No, it's just the one main title running through this year."
Who do you have writing this series?
"We've got James Moran, who wrote for the last series of Torchwood, and we've got a guy called John Fay who previously wrote all sorts of things. Russell was a fan of his, so he's come and written episode two, which is brilliant. Russell did one, John did two, James did three and then Russell did four and five."
Are you nervous about how the audience will take to the new format?
"Yes, of course. It's something none of us has done before so we're all a bit nervous of it. I've got the bonus of having seen the material we've shot and I can assure you, we've got some absolutely fantastic material with some amazing acting. It's stunning and I would defy anybody not to be impressed by it."
Where are you at with production on the series right now?
"We've just started our second week of post editing and we're in a position to have a look at our first episode. We've just shown our executive producers the first cut version of the first episode and this week we're hoping to show them the first cut of the second episode. It's a very very tough post schedule. We've only got one director, but we've got three cutting rooms running simultaneously and he's literally running between all three. We have to deliver the whole thing, with all effects and music, by March. So to do five one-hours is a real tough schedule, particularly because we've got so much amazing material. I'd guess we're two thirds of the way through and the last third is a struggle - but a nice struggle."
Up next on Tube Talk's 2009 TV Preview: The Heroes become fugitives as volume four begins
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