Where Next For Torchwood?

News Cameron K 13 Jul 2009 - 09:47
Torchwood: Children of Earth

Now that the dust has settled on Children of Earth, millions of people are left wondering: Is Torchwood coming back to our screens?

Only last month Russell T Davies told an audience at a 'Q & A' session that a fourth series of Torchwood was "ready to go" and the show's future rested on how popular its third outing was to be. Many 'commentators' reckoned that this was the end for Captain Jack & Co. (and it was for some, sniff) but the ending of Children Of Earth certainly leaves the door open for many possibilities. It could end there but, more importantly, it could go on. Evidence?

Exhibit A: the audience figures
From Day One it was quite apparent the British public were hooked, with almost six million tuning in to BBC One (according to 'overnight' figures). Not only that, the show also screened simultaneously on BBC HD (getting around the 100,000 mark) and repeated later the same night on BBC Three (scoring well over 200,000). It should be noted that the 'overnights' do not take into account those who have recorded it for later viewing - these figures will be released in ten days time by BARB.

The figures for the rest of the 'series' continued in this remarkable style with a very healthy audience share (ranging between 24% and 27%) and all episodes featuring strongly on the BBC iPlayer. In comparison with other similar shows, the signs are very good: the average figure for a drama at this time of year is approximately 4.5M with a 20% share. Looking at how it performs against its current competition, Children of Earth was only beaten this week by Coronation Street and Eastenders.

Another important factor is the Appreciation Index (AI) figure, this is how a programme is rated in terms of 'quality' by the audience. An average rating for a drama is 77, whilst 85 and upwards is considered excellent. Children of Earth has gained figures of 90 and 91, never dipping below 88 - clearly the viewers are happy. (Doctor Who has not beaten 91).

As a last note, and something often overlooked in the UK, Torchwood is receiving much acclaim and very healthy viewing figures in the US - a factor that should be considered with regards to the possible funding of the series.

Exhibit B: the cast and crew
As we reported some weeks ago, Doctor Who supremo Russell T Davies would be happy to continue with Torchwood for the next ten years. Clearly Rusty D has a lot of lurve for the show and, judging by Children of Earth, he's still got a tank full of ideas and images to share. Both John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) and Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper) have also expressed their desire to continue with their characters.

But if a fourth series was greenlit, the actors would be the only hinderance on starting production immediately. Barrowman is 'booked up,' as it were, until February next year (he's doing Around The World In 80 Days for Children In Need, La Cage Aux Folles on the London stage and then straight into Robin Hood: The Pantomime Adventure) and with Myles expecting a child in November it would seem filming is a long way off. That is, of course, if the production team continued with these two characters.

It's also worth noting that Russell T Davies is off to America though there's no reason why that should get in the way of his writing (well, until he finishes that Doctor Who film *coughs*).

Exhibit C: the merchandise
Merchandising should never be overlooked. Torchwood has already spawned an enormous amount of ancillary materials such as magazines, books, soundtracks, action figures and, not forgetting, DVDs. It's quite a collection for show that has run for such a comparatively short  time. Without wanting to sound like some kind of maniacal Eighties businessman, Torchwood ticks all the right demographic boxes for merch.

At the time of going to 'press', the BBC have remained quiet on the future but given the overwhelming evidence in favour of continuing, only the nuttiest of bookmaker would take a bet against its return. It may well return with some familiar faces - can I humbly suggest Liz May Brice (Johnson) and Cush Jumbo (Lois Habiba) from Children of Earth? - but Torchwood seems robust enough to continue anew.

It's format would seem to suit the five-night televisual event that the BBC are keen on and after Children of Earth it does seem that reverting to a thirteen-part series would not be the preferred option. Perhaps two five-night series a year? (Please??)

With Torchwood: Children of Earth yet to air in the US (starts on July 20) it would appear that the BBC will remain quiet until then. Though with the San Diego Comic Con (the biggest geek-fest this side of, well, anywhere) coming up later this month, perhaps an announcement could be made there.

And if I may make one more request (should anyone from the production team be reading this), can we get the opening theme tune back? I didn't half miss it last week.

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