Torchwood producer talks Children Of Earth

Does switching from BBC Two to BBC One change the nature of the series?
Obviously we’re trying to appeal to a more mainstream audience going to BBC One, but it is still post-watershed. We actually take this series on a darker journey, if anything. But Children Of Earth is still the same show. Jack is still as cheeky and irreverent and sexy. Telling one big story meant that the story had more scale and reach than we ever had in series two, but no, nothing’s changed. It’s still the same Torchwood: action-packed, thrilling and funny, it’s got just about everything.

The Torchwood team is two members down on last year, how does that affect them?
Of course the deaths of Owen and Tosh had a huge impact on the team and I don’t think Jack, Gwen or Ianto will stop thinking about them, but it’s a brand new story with Torchwood thrown right into the middle of it from the very beginning so we don’t sit them around talking about the past. It’s like life - they’re just getting on with it. And the fact that they’re down to three people means that as a team they’re under more pressure than ever as they battle to save the Earth. But we do have Gwen’s husband, Rhys, who’s much more active and becomes a valued addition to the team - he has quite a big part to play in it and as it goes on he becomes more and more active.

Do any of the other secondary characters come into it too, like Gwen’s friend Andy the policeman?
Yeah, he comes into it in the latter part. There’s an amalgamation of all those characters on the periphery, like him, like Ianto’s family, who all kind of come together to help and aid in what we hope will defeat the alien at the end, and Andy is one of them.

Has having three different writers working on it brought different flavours to the series?
It has and it hasn’t. With Russell overseeing all of them, it still maintains a certain continuity throughout. Obviously it being one big story they had to intermingle, so we had copious meetings where we would all sit together. So while the specific scripts might each have a slightly different feel, the overriding continuity of it all has Russell’s stamp on it.

Visually, what kind of inspiration did you take for Children Of Earth? Where you looking at other thrillers?
When we set out we did initially think it would be nice to go down the kind of Bourne Identity route, make it very thriller-like. But after our first couple of tone meetings it was evident that actually that wasn’t the way that Russell saw it. Although between Euros [Lyn, the director] and I we did try and put a certain amount of our stamp on it, at the end of the day, as Russell said, it’s still gotta be Torchwood. It’s still got to be fun-packed; yes, it can be thrilling, but it’s still got to have the real Torchwood feel. Torchwood is a very specific feel, and to try to make any real changes to that russell felt would be a mistake. So although Euros did put a certain amount of his own directing stamp on it we were very careful to maintain the light-hearted, thriller-type, action-packed Torchwood side of things.

Did you do much filming in London?
We’d actually budgeted for a week in London but when it actually came down to it we only needed to go there for four days. But yes, in terms of scale we’ve got helicopter shoots over London, car chases through London. We shot at Battersea heliport, with artists having to be shipped out at Battersea heliport. We’ve shot John Barrowman on roofs in London - the classic shot of him on the roof, we’ve mirrored that a little bit by doing a similar type of thing in London. So it looks very filmy. We’ve probably got every element that you’ve seen in all of the other Torchwood episodes, all crammed into just five long one hours. And it is bigger and more epic in terms of scale.

Do we see find out any more about Jack’s past on Earth through historical flashbacks?
Our only flashbacks are to 1965, but that was a really fun thing to do. There’s little kids in 1965 costumes, soldiers in 1965 costumes, and some of our characters in 1965 costumes, and it looks fantastic. We shot out in the Brecon Beacons, out on the moors, at night for most of our 1965 stuff. It was just the most stunning scenery and when we were there it was snowing, so you had all the snow on top of the mountains and it was absolutely beautiful and really epic.

What was the most difficult thing to achieve, in terms of a day’s shooting?
Every day is a different challenge, but with things like the helicopter shoot, you’re relying on the weather. You’re bringing a whole crew from Wales down to London over three or four days and that’s your window to get a full day of helicopter shoot in. So logistically those kind of things are hard to shoot. Then there was an awful lot of exterior work. We had to shoot a lot of night work out in Cardiff Bay. We had to shoot in a big open quarry. At that time the weather was pretty horrendous and several times we had to cancel the shoot and reschedule - those kind of things are really sent to try you.

Do you have any idea what the future holds for the series?
Well of course we’re convinced there’ll be another series - there's an audience out there for it, so we're pretty sure there’ll be another series. Which format it’ll be in... I guess we’ll have to wait and see, because we’ve made no decisions yet. But yes, we’re quietly confident that there will be another series.

Ian Berriman