Who’s who of sci- fi
ENGLISH TV is not widely held to be the spiritual home of science fiction programming, but things might be changing.
The announcement of a fourth season of hit BBC series Torchwood was made all the more intriguing by the fact it would be produced mostly in the US through BBC Worldwide. Fans were apprehensive about the possible Americanisation of the previously Welshproduced series, but the BBC seems determined to build a US audience.
Torchwood is a spin-off of the reinvigorated BBC flagship series Doctor Who, which was relaunched in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Timelord.
The big risk paid off, with the new series quickly finding a huge audience. Its popularity has become so strong that American audiences are even warming to it.
The two-episode opener of the latest season of Doctor Who was also shot mostly in the US, which is not only evidence of an attempt to rope in an American audience but also a sign the series is attracting a lot more funding.
Torchwood – the title is an anagram of Doctor Who – first appeared in 2006 and is generally regarded as the more grown-up sibling, with a great deal more sex and violence.
It follows the adventures of the immortal Jack Harkness ( John Barrowman, pictured) as he leads the unit in a struggle against various alien threats to Earth.
Season four, which will premiere in July, was filmed mostly in Los Angeles and features American stars such as Mekhi Phifer, Bill Pullman and Alexa Havins, along with series regulars Eve Myles and Kai Owen.
So the BBC is clearly using the soaring success of Doctor Who to make further inroads into the American market with Torchwood and good luck to them – as long as they’re mindful of the savage backlash they can expect if everything starts looking like Jerry Bruckheimer made it.
In other good news, Australian pay-TV subscribers will get to watch the new season of Torchwood only a few hours after the UK premiere of each episode.
Free-to-air TV viewers will have to wait a little longer.