Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Future: Torchwood

People have accused my last post of triskaidekaphobia, but, no, I’m not even paraskavedekatriaphobic; I was just a bit weary of having a bad day, and found the timing ironic. I do, however, have a bit of a thing about some days – I like a bit of history, and enjoy bringing up anniversaries. Russell T Davies’ first Doctor Who story (the stunning New Adventures novel Damaged Goods) was published ten years ago today, and I bet he wouldn’t have thought that ten years later his Doctor Who spin-off series would be on the cover of the new Radio Times. Torchwood looks set to be closer in tone to that very adult novel than any of his Doctor Who scripts so far, sold as “The X-Files meets This Life” and featuring rather more horror than Doctor Who TV has had since the mid-1970s, and certainly a lot more sex.

You’ve probably seen the dark, glossy trailers, with that eerily echoing bit of theme and promoting the glamorous leads, out-of-her-depth policewoman Gwen and hunky action man Captain Jack (we’ve only caught the minute-long trailer once, incidentally, but I reckon it’s much better cut together than the thirty-second one that’s on constant rotation). You might even have caught them on a bus. And after all the anticipation, it finally starts with a double episode on Sunday night at 9 on BBC3, with what appears to be a regular repeat slot for the digitally challenged on BBC2 on Wednesdays.

So what’s it all about? Well, we’ve been trying to avoid most of the details, but the basics have already been established in Doctor Who. It’s a hi-tech modern-day group hunting aliens through the mean streets (and having sex with each other) for the good of dear of old Blighty, basically like Spooks with more googly monsters. Torchwood is a secret paramilitary organisation, founded by Queen Victoria, to defend and expand Britain’s borders against (and by exploiting) extraterrestrials. If you want to see what happened to the Torchwood base in Canary Wharf, tune in to BBC3 at 7 tomorrow night for another showing of the outstanding Doctor Who season finale, but evidently there were more of them out there. The Torchwood group for this new show is, to no-one’s great surprise, based in Cardiff and all unfeasibly good-looking. I don’t yet know how they come to be led by the Doctor’s erstwhile companion from the future, the immensely shaggable Captain Jack. I’m fairly certain, though, that there’ll soon be a Jack-based drinking game: so much for when he has sex with a woman; so much for sex with a man; so much for sex with several men and / or women at the same time; so much for sex with an alien from another world… So, I suspect sex may be the series’ extra selling point on top of Doctor Who (as it were), and what brings it closer to This Life or Buffy. I’m also particularly looking forward to scripts from Doctor Who’s Mickey Smith, actor / author Noel Clarke, and thrilling Sapphire and Steel creator PJ Hammond.

Despite his American accent, John Barrowman was of course born in Scotland before moving to the States – meaning that although they’re both made by BBC Wales, both Who-ish series now have Scottish leads who play their characters without Scottish accents. Perhaps I find that more amusing than most because I’m half-Scottish and half-American and sound remarkably English… Like Torchwood and Doctor Who, I feel very British. Oh, and if you can’t be bothered looking up ‘triskaidekaphobia’, it’s fear of the number 13 – just the sort of hokey superstition you might expect a sci-fi explanation for from the British X-Files, but in fact Doctor Who’s beaten Torchwood to it; you’ll find the ‘terrifying truth’ behind our horror of thirteen in the series’ very finest Halloween ghost story, Image of the Fendahl, but it’s still hokum to me.

Roll on Torchwood!

Past: History Matters
Present: One Small Blog For Me, One Giant Blog With Everyone Else

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Don’t worry – I’ve caught a great many people that way ;-)

But it does mean I loathe President Bush not just for the direct harm he does, but for dragging the country’s name into the slime.

My favourite ‘…And it turned out I was American’ story was at the first Parliamentary by-election I ever went to campaign in, the very chilly Scottish November of Kincardine and Deeside. Another young helper and I were put up one night in the same bed, and he was apparently accustomed to waking up cuddling his pillow. “So,” he said, “if you wake up and my arms are round you, don’t worry, I’m not a homosexual.” “Don’t worry; I am,” I naturally replied, greatly amused and not used to this sort of conversation while in bed. To his credit, he wasn’t fazed, nor after making the mistake of saying he’d never met anyone gay before, when I reeled off a list of some of those who’d been at the HQ that very day.

No, what embarrassed him was when he went into an anti-American tirade and then suddenly noticed I’d stopped talking. I’ve always disliked people who imply they’re speaking on behalf of an entire group simply because they happen to be a member of it, who usually begin their remarks with “As a…” but on that occasion I was malicious enough not to resist it. “Well, speaking as an American citizen…” I began. Spot the Liberal: the sexuality of the man in bed with him didn’t make him blink, but on finding he might have been minutely, borderline racist to someone, he whimpered, rolled into a ball and took quite a bit of coaxing to speak again ;-)
Hopefully Torchwood will be everything Death of a President wasn't;-)
Although my life is too consumed with, err living... reading all the text in your blog gives me a headache.

So, I tried a bit of speed-reading this entry and wondered what all this "Torchwood" stuff is all about.

So I will tune into BBC3 this evening and watch the first episode.

BTW: have you noticed that Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who?

I will scream if I see a blue police box in the show.
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