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Darkness Falls: Russell T. Davies, John Barrowman, Eve Myles, and Gareth David-Lloyd Talk "Torchwood: Children of Earth"

When we last saw the Torchwood team, they were still reeling from the death of two of their own even as they teamed up with the Doctor (David Tennant) in order to save the universe.

Torchwood returns next month with a five-episode event season entitled Torchwood: Children of Earth, which will air across five nights at 9 pm ET/PT on BBC America, following their transmission on BBC One in the United Kingdom.

Written by Russell T. Davies, John Fay, and James Moran and directed by Euros Lyn, Torchwood: Children of Earth stars John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, and Kai Owen, along with a slew of notable guest stars including Peter Capaldi, Lucy Cohu, Paul Copley, Nick Briggs, Susan Brown, and Tom Price.

There's still a lot of mystery surrounding Torchwood: Children of Earth, so let's turn to series creator Russell T. Davies and series stars John Barrowman, Eve Myles, and Gareth David-Lloyd to describe what we can expect to see in their own words.

So what is Torchwood: Children of Earth about, other than the team racing to stop some sort of alien invasion that has the world's children going silent? Let's turn to Davies for the answer.

“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?" explains creator/executive producer Russell T. Davies. "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 is safe!”

Still, says Davies, viewers don't need to know anything about Torchwood's backstory in order 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," he explained. "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.”

Series star John Barrowman agrees. "Anybody who loves science fiction or a good drama will fall in love with Torchwood. 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,” said Barrowman. "Torchwood is 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."

And despite the change in the series' format--changing from the previous two season's thirteen-episode structure to a five-night run--the series itself hasn't intrinsically changed, just evolved.

“We’ve tipped the series on its head and given people a whole new format," said series star Eve Myles. "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."

Barrowman concurs. "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," explained Barrowman. 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’re 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’ - 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."

And if that weren't enough, Barrowman teased that there's a dangling skeleton hanging in the closet of one of Torchwood's members, a secret that's dragged out into the light during Children of Earth.

“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," he said coyly. "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."

Myles, meanwhile, likened the action to that of an action-packed thriller, albeit one that plays out over five hours instead of a ninety-minute feature film.

"I was so excited when I got the scripts," said Myles. "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."

"Gwen is still the heart and emotion of Torchwood but also realizes the responsibility she has as a member of the team," said Myles. "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 police woman 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."

Look for Gwen to form a close relationship with Paul Copley's Clem, a man who is haunted by his past. "He’s absolutely fantastic," said Myles of working with Copley. "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."

Meanwhile, look for Torchwood's bookish coffee-maker Ianto to come into his own during Torchwood: Children of Earth.

"I think Ianto has changed quite a lot since the series first began because of everything that’s happened to him," David-Lloyd explained. "He lost everything he loved at one point, and then realized 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."

As for that relationship between Ianto and Jack, look for the duo to get even closer during these next episodes.

"It was nice to film those elements of the series," said David-Lloyd. "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."

Still, said Davies, the romance between Barrowman's Captain Jack and David-Lloyd's Ianto wasn't planned from the start.

"Not planning, as such, it just grew naturally out of the scripts and performances from John and Gareth," said Davies. "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."

Of course, that relationship will be further complicated by the potential world-ending events of Torchwood: Children of Earth.

“I think every character goes through the process of thinking about giving up," mused David-Lloyd. "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.”

That darkness seems to be at the very heart of Torchwood: Children of Earth. While it's effectively an epic sci-fi story about survival, it was also an opportunity for Davies to tackle some other issues.

"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!" said Davies. "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 civilization 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."

"I loved [writing] it, because it was a huge challenge," said Davies. "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 phone calls. 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 favorite way of working. We also had the producer and director inside the writers' 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."

"They just touch a nerve," said Davies of the series' use of Earth's children. "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."

So just what are the story's villains then?

"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," Davies explained. "Some of my favorite 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.'"

And keep your eyes peeled for a slew of British Who's Who among actors with the amazing cast that Davies and executive producer Julie Gardner assembled for Torchwood: Children of Earth.

"Just pure class!" said Davies of working with Children of Earth's vast cast of characters. "It’s a joy, an absolute joy, to work with actors of this caliber. 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 burn - and Nicholas Farrell as the most clever and manipulative Prime Minister you could imagine. And then 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! Best cast I could have imagined!"

Torchwood: Children of Earth launches Monday, July 20th at 9 pm ET/PT on BBC America.

Comments

warlie said…
am so excited but just for future notice, its "Gareth David-Lloyd" not "David Gareth-Lloyd"
Heatherette said…
VERY excited about this. Thanks for the excellent interview!

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