From left: Richard Stokes, Noel Clarke, Chris Chibnall and Matt O’Toole.
The panel was moderated by TV Guide’s West Coast Bureau Chief Craig Tomashoff, and it featured the above mentioned Clarke and Chibnall, as well as producer Richard Stokes and prosthetics supervisor Matt O’Toole.
The audience in room 6A was treated to a special 20-minute preview of the show. The moment Captain Jack Harness showed up, the room literally lost its collective mind! It was very interesting the way the montage of the pilot was assembled and how good a notion of the show it gave. Then it was time for the panel, with Tomashoff asking questions first and then opening the floor for the Q&A.
Noel’s first words were uttered in perfect Joey Trebbiani style: “How you doin’?” Chris said the enthusiastic reception had been worth flying over the Atlantic, which caused even more cheers, as did the mention of show creator Russell T. Davies. Chris also explained the show had been incredibly well-received in the UK as well as Europe and Australia, and that overall they were “chuffed” to be in America finally. There was a minor discussion about how Captain Jack had gotten pregnant, as hinted at in the clip, and the final conclusion was, “It’s Captain Jack.”
The writers talked about how intimidating it’d been to take on something stemming from the Doctor Who mythology, and Noel said to him it’d been more fun than intimidating, because he was already in the other show and “whenever you write the first season of anything, you’re actually creating the mythology.” He also quipped that Chris is “a really hard boss.”
The conversation moved on to prosthetics on the show, and Richard highly praised the work Matt O’Toole does on the show, saying that he works from directions on the script leading to a sculpture. After receiving notes on that from Davies, Matt had stuff ready to go a couple of hours later.
Captain Jack Harkness was the next topic of discussion, and John Barrowman’s performance. Chris said they knew the character had to be “awesome, outrageous, fun” and therefore he “can’t imagine any other actor in the world playing that character, other than John Barrowman.” This set off more cheers from the audience, as Chris further elaborated that “kids love John, adults love him… He’s a 51st century omn-isexual guy, and that’s how we like our heroes!” Praise went on about the rest of the cast, especially for Eve Myles, as her character was written especially for her. “Thank God she said yes!”
Writing for Captain Jack was the next topic, as he’s “a great sci-fi character, which makes writing for him a joy as you can go anywhere with him.” Because the character is so open about lots of things, it leads itself to being more sexually open than the norm, and to include aliens and also your workmates. Noel says that having a character that’s more tolerant of other races, unlike what usually happens in shows with aliens, literally tells the viewers something about tolerance and open-mindedness.
Tomashoff remarked how “mature” the show seems, whereas Doctor Who is more accessible to other audiences. Chris replied that it was something “completely intentional,” as Doctor Who airs at 7PM Saturdays in the UK, and Torchwood comes on at 9 or 10PM and it deals with more adult topics and moral dilemmas. Noel and Chris advised parents of 10 year olds who watch Doctor Who to “wait a few years before letting them watch Torchwood.”
Next, they briefly touched on the show’s prosthetics, and Matt (who also does that work for Doctor Who) said his favorite from both shows was “The Doctor’s Glove”. Chris mentioned that the hand we’d seen in the preview, in a jar, was actually Matt’s.
The floor was then opened to questions, and most of the questions time and again dealt with the pansexuality seen in Torchwood. It was brought up in regards to regular cable TV in America (such as the Sci-Fi Channel, where Doctor Who regularly airs) and the chances of seeing the show there. Chris replied the show is “mostly a sci-fi thriller with very good characters, and you can never control people’s reactions. We’re really proud of the show we made, and hopefully it’ll be embraced.” Then it was brought up again in regards to the lesbian relationships in the show, which are marginally touched on. Richard said that “when Captain Jack says, ‘You humans and your quaint little categories’ it was Russell and the writers’ way to tell the audience to move past that.”
Chris Chibnall teased the audience when asked where does Season 2 start, whether at The Hub or elsewhere. “The first thing you see on S2 is a deserted open road.” The reply was received with playful groans from the audience. At this point, Tomashoff mentioned that James Marsters will be in season 2, and the audience literally lost their minds, with cheering and applause. Chris again quipped, “I didn’t realize you guys knew him!”
The team was thanked for showing off Cardiff in the show, and Chris mentioned there are now tours of the areas shown for tourists. “Most of the great icon cities you see are American, and we wanted to create the big British one, turning Cardiff sexy and epic and all that.”
The next question was about characters of color on Doctor Who, including Mickey and Martha, and whether they were treated as fairly as characters of other races. Noel, who’d played Mickey, said that speaking for himself (‘because you’d have to ask Freema for her opinion’) his character had a set arc in order to get from point A to point B, “so you had to see him being the coward, and being normal in order for him to develop and reach the goal set up for him by the writers, so I’d say he was indeed treated fairly. He had to be what he was to become what he became.” Noel told the woman who’d asked the question was “very good.”
The next question was whether Torchwood was more of a sister show to Doctor Who than a spin-off. The answer was yes, and Chris stressed the “incredibly collaborative spirit between both shows and also The Sarah Jane Adventures. It’s a big team!” They mentioned both shows are shot in the same set, side by side, so everybody goes back and forth sharing the same buildings and all, “doing a lot of crossovers.” Chris mentioned that “you can watch either show, as they’re stand-alone shows, but if you watch both, you get a few more treats.” Chris and Noel admitted to having watched Doctor Who growing up.
Noel was then asked about writing for Gwen’s boyfriend in the show after having played somebody’s boyfriend with th
e short end of the stick on Doctor Who. He mentioned episode 11, “Combat”, that he’d written, where the character decides he’s not gonna take it anymore, and the mention received major cheers. When asked if Reese has an arc, he wouldn’t reveal it, but Chris said “all characters have a journey and will continue to have one.”
The next question was about Eve Myles’ character Gwyneth in Doctor Who S1, and the speculation about whether she’s any sort of relation to her character Gwen, “maybe her great- great- great- great-grandmother or something like that.” Chris was cajoled into answering, and he opened with, “Oh, if only Russell were here right now!” and then added “Keep speculating; you’ll get no answers from us.”
Someone came up to the mic and said a very generous friend in the UK had sent her the DVDs for S1, “and it seems pretty obvious that everybody in the Torchwood team has a crush on everybody else, so when can we expect the orgy?” The question received major cheering and cracked the panel up. Noel quipped, “You can see Chris writing it up in his head right this minute!” Then, it all degenerated into jokes regarding the reception given to the word “orgy”, with Chris mentioning that “as of this moment, the first episode of S2 includes the word ‘orgy’.”
Noel was addressed by the next person, who praised his portrayal of Mickey in Doctor Who before asking whether the Torchwood writers have to take into consideration events happening on Doctor Who, according to what we’d been shown in the earlier clip. Chris jumped in first to answer that they “absolutely” have to take that into consideration.
The next question was whether we’ll ever find out in either show why Captain Jack is harder and colder on Torchwood than on Doctor Who. Chris said the big question “is about Jack’s journey through both shows, honestly, as he’s dealing with an issue in S1 Torchwood, as some of you may know, that gets resolved. A different side of him will come out in S2.”
Next, the writers were asked whether we’ll see other branches of Torchwood and if The Dark will be revealed. Chris said that he was “avoiding all future episodes questions.” Noel quipped, “He’s avoiding them like he would a game of monkey tennis.”
The final question had to do with the fact of people having seen bits or the entire season 1 already here before it airs, and whether there’ll come a time that series will show in England at the same time as in America. Noel replied that “the technology is now available; whether it’ll happen or not is another question in view of the vast number of companies involved in the show’s broadcast.” The audience member mentioned that “a few of us with clairvoyant dreams still will buy the DVDs when they come out” and she then asked whether 12 minutes of each episode will be cut for their American broadcast. Chris quickly shut that down: “No, that’s not true. It’ll be three minutes.” The person insisted that she’d read “it’ll be 10 minutes due to censorship problems and the other two for length.” Chris stressed he’d checked it out with the BBC America representative before coming out, “and as far as I know there’s nothing to be cut for censorship, and only 2 or 3 minutes will be cut for running time.”
The panel ended on this note, and Tomashoff asked the audience to reply in unison when and where the show will air in America. Everybody knew the simple answer: