Torchwood is destroyed, the team disbanded with many of them dead—even Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) has left Earth, dispirited and despondent. That was the situation surrounding the Torchwood team in July of 2009 as the conclusion of Episode 5 of Torchwood: Children of Earth. The future of Torchwood seemed resigned to the expanded universe of novels and comic books. The series wouldn’t remain quiet for long, however, the buzz generated by “Children of Earth” rose to an outcry as fans of the series began to question the future of Captain Jack, Gwen Cooper and the most important question of all seemed to be—is Ianto really dead? In the ensuing months, Torchwood’s creator—Russell T. Davies—began dropping hints that the show’s future was not as certain as it seemed. There were rumors of a fourth series of the show and at one point even the Fox network was in talks with Torchwood’s creative team to continue the story. Additionally, John Barrowman has stated on many occasions that he would be willing to play Captain Jack again–now, it appears he’ll have the chance. In June, the official announcement was made that the Torchwood team would partner with Starz Entertainment for a fourth series. Russell T. Davies has now come forward with more details about the fourth series of Torchwood—including its full name and an explanation of why the show is being rebooted.
“It could have ended where it did. What changed my mind or what inspired me was the response to Children of Earth, which was — it got phenomenal figures in Britain. It did beautifully over here on BBC America. And there was just a buzz about it. Children of Earth was a new form of Torchwood, and something clicked.” Davies says of his decision to return to Torchwood—though he is not content to offer his faithful fans more of the same. “We’re going to be absolutely faithful to people who followed Captain Jack’s story and to John Barrowman’s career. So we do acknowledge the past stories while at the same time moving on to new stuff. [Captain Jack] was left very dispirited, and almost defeated at the end of the last series, which we acknowledge and we deal with in a language that will both satisfy old fans and also will move forward into the future.”
That future takes place two years after the events depicted in Torchwood: Children of Earth. The new series–Torchwood: The New World finds the team disbanded and Torchwood destroyed as it was at the end of Children of Earth. According to Davies, “It’s like something that ceased to exist a long time ago that’s spoken of only in whispers. It’s like a legend now.” A legend that is waiting to be discovered—CIA Agent Rex Matheson will be the one discovering it, though not alone: “We also have a watch analyst at the CIA called Esther, who is not friends with Rex, but works with a colleague of Rex’s. The two of them become embroiled in the Torchwood legend and investigate what Torchwood is or was and then find themselves on the run from that moment onwards and having to decide—having to meet Captain Jack and Gwen, decide whether they’re friends, whether they’re enemies, a decision that takes a long time to be decided. That’s part of the ten episodes, is the two teams coming together. Is that a new Torchwood team, or is the CIA in charge, or are they friends? Are they enemies? There’s a lot of sparks, a lot of excitement.”
Davies and his team also promise to be true to the show’s lore and its fan base—in every aspect. Including the show’s sexual undertones and overall sexuality—”Well, I invented Queer as Folk,” says Davies, “So I’ve always had loose standards and practices [. . .] Literally, having written Queer as Folk, I have done the biggest and boldest nude scenes of all time with that. So there’s nowhere to go after that really. But as long as the story is working, if the story demands savagery, if the story demands intimacy, then we will absolutely go there. … Any drama is good when it just has an unflinching stare, when it’s not worried. It’s, like, let people higher up on the sixth floor, worry about standards and practices. It’s like I will sit there and tell the story honestly and properly and then fight all the way through the edit with it, as would you. So just good, honest storytelling. That’s the way. We don’t worry too much about that really.” Julie Gardner adds that “There will be references that you will get that a new audience won’t, but it’s absolutely rebooted to welcome in a new audience.”
Slated to air on Starz in Summer or 2011 Torchwood: The New World will see John Barrowman return as Captain Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper and Kai Own as Gwen’s husband Rhys.