It’s been a turbulent time for the folks at Torchwood.
When the Doctor Who spin-off launched back in 2006, its first season was a solid winner by anyone’s standards. The initial cast of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd), Naoko Mori (Toshiko Sato) and Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) took off to everyone’s satisfaction.
The second season didn’t do quite as well, even with guest appearances by James Masters (John Hart, but you can call him Spike) and Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones).
On the other hand, the second season did end with one incredible bang. By the time it was over, Mori and Harper were killed. There were further rumors Torchwood had taken a mortal shot. There was talk of cancellation. Yet like the Captain, it looks like Torchwood will have another life. That’s because if the new five-part miniseries Torchwood: Children of Earth proves anything, this show is anything but dead.
One person who certainly appreciates this fact is David-Lloyd. Newsarama had the opportunity to interview him just after “Children” made its debut on BBC One the week of July 6. If he sounds a bit antsy, he was waiting for the ratings and the future of his job.
NEWSARAMA: Torchwood put a lot of fans in shock with the cast changes of the second season. How’s it being just a trio now?
GARETH DAVID-LLOYD: Obviously, we’re going to miss the presence of Naoko and Burn. I think that definitely comes across in this new series. We made sure everyone realizes there’s a gap in the team, and we spend the early part of it trying to recruit new members. Still, that wound is a pretty sore one. In part that was because we actors definitely missed them.
NRAMA: It seems if you want a short lifespan as a character in the Dr. Who Universe, join Torchwood.
GDL: That really is the thing with Torchwood. It was definitely mentioned in a couple of episodes in the first two seasons. The life expectancy of Torchwood team members isn’t very high at all.
NRAMA: On the positive end, that means a lot more screen time for you as Ianto. How does that feel to be more than Captain Jack’s Alfred Pennyworth?
GDL: It’s awesome. I’m obviously involved in a lot more of the action. I’m actually involved in a lot more of the combat elements of the show. I get to pretend that I’m an action hero. The Alfred reference is a good one. He was the one who got them to wherever they had to go. He definitely had the butler/chauffeur responsibility, staying home and guarding the base. He even made the tea and coffee. Now he’s a more fully fledged member of the team.
NRAMA: Had you ever done action shows before?
GDL: No. This is the first. It’s actually been real fun.
NRAMA: How do you find working off of John Barrowman and Eve Myles?
GDL: They’re great. Ever since the beginning we’ve become a real family. I’ve been in situations where the actors never interact except on the set, they would even only eat in their trailers. Not here. We got along from the very beginning. It’s a real family atmosphere with John at the head of it. He makes sure that we’re all alright. John is so full of energy, too, and is always getting into something.
NRAMA: Were you much into science fiction movies or TV when you were younger?
GDL: I was huge into science fiction. I was especially a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I even had every episode on VHS. I also loved the Alien and Predator movies. I really loved sci-fi horror.
I never really got into the original Doctor Who because it was on for such a very short time after I became aware of science fiction. I was just getting into Sylvester McCoy when it was stopped. I thought it was great when it was brought back to life.
NRAMA: The reason why I ask this is there seems to be a bit of Village of the Damned in this new story arc.
GDL: There does seem to be a little bit of it in there, doesn’t it? I suppose based on the trailers you get a bit of that. A threat is a lot more terrifying when it affects one’s children. Just so you know, the children are just a symptom; they are not what are really terrifying about this season. There’s a much greater threat.
NRAMA: It seems the most creepy and/or terrifying episodes you’ve ever done.
GDL: It most certainly is. I think one of the important things we say in this one is the bedrock of humanity is the family, and nothing scares us more than when that’s threatened, especially the children. It’s particularly scary when a pack of innocents are used for such maximum effect. So many great films have done that in the past. Right off the bat I can think of The Shining, The Omen, Poltergeist, The Exorcist. The list is endless.
“Children of the Earth” definitely feeds off of that. It’s impossible these days to not look at something new and not see what’s been done in the past. Village of the Damned is a good example.
NRAMA: One other subplot appears to be there are those out there who want to get rid of Torchwood.
GDL: They are marked men from the beginning. In fact, a lot of the first two to three episodes Jack, Gwen and Ianto are trying to find out why. Of course, that mystery will unravel, but they definitely are targeted men.
NRAMA: Any particular guest stars we should watch?
GDL: Definitely. Peter Capaldi is just stunning in it. Cush Jumbo is a newcomer and someone you should definitely keep an eye on. She’s got an absolutely amazing future ahead of her. She’s very talented.
NRAMA: How do you see the future of Torchwood? Is it still going to be around?
GDL: I hope so. I think it’s already in the producers' minds if this special event is a total success. I’m personally very proud of it. I think any new person who sits through the first two episodes is going to be absolutely hooked. So I’m absolutely optimistic about it.
NRAMA: Well, you seem to have established a very rabid fan base. How does that feel?
GDL: I have to admit when I first met the fans it blew me away a bit. It seems that with each season the number of fans grows and grows and grows. I find it very flattering, especially as the fans are very loyal and dedicated. They are our bread and butter really.
NRAMA: Have you done the convention circuit yet?
GDL: Yeah! I had never been to the States until 1 ½ years ago, and that was due to conventions. I’ve done them about six or seven times now and have been to different parts of the States each time. It’s like a mini-holiday for me each and every time. Yes, you do meet a few people that one can call a bit off center. They think you’re their best friend right away. That rarely happens to me. Overall, the fan base has been absolutely lovely to me. I luckily haven’t had any extreme encounters, yet.
NRAMA: Anything else you’re working on these days?
GDL: I just finished a short independent film with some of the guys who worked on Torchwood. It’s called A Very British Cover Up and I just attended a screening last night. It’s a huge leap from Ianto. It’s a comedy with some dark undertones about a national amateur drag queen competition. It was good fun. I’m also doing pantomime at the end of the year. I’ll be the Prince in a version of Cinderella.
Torchwood: Children of Earth will make its bow on BBC America on Monday, July 20. Check your local listings for time.