One day on planet Earth, no one dies. Like a coincidence, no deaths, no one reported dead – apparently, everyone got lucky. The next day no one dies … and the next … and the next … and the next. People are still sick, accidents are happening and people are getting old. They’ve got diseases, but the body won’t die. They just stay alive. Nothing can kill them. Overnight, in the blink of an eye, somehow, something happened to the human race and everyone has become immortal. Not invulnerable, but immortal, which is much worse. Invulnerable would be lovely. Forever young, that would be lovely. Just to be immortal with none of the benefits – not so good. So suddenly you’ve got a world that goes into a panic.
We’re going to live for hundreds of years, but the human life is still built around having 70 or 80 years and then moving on. Suddenly in about three days, all the hospitals are full, as the people who are sick pile up. Within weeks, that leads to the outbreak of different diseases. The health services in countries snap. What starts happening to human beings when we become this strange new race of humans? The panic and hysteria sets in with the crazies and the mobs. In every episode there’s a new theory.
How do you investigate something completely intangible? No one’s dying – that’s like investigating nothing. Where on Earth do you begin? How do we cope with what human beings are doing with this new age, with this new era? Fighting the human race is just as bad as any aliens they ever fought. As people seek to capitalise and undermine the situation, you reveal human nature at its best and at its worst.
The series has a broad international feel, when you realise the dynamics of the plot, and what’s happening to the world. It starts in Wales and Washington simultaneously. You have Rex (Mekhi Phifer), a CIA agent in Washington, and Gwen (Eve Myles) in Wales. Those two worlds first start to collide and it becomes a very big picture. We travel to Montana, Utah, Atlanta and Dallas. We spend a lot of time in Los Angeles and in Washington. Deliberately, it’s actually all part of the story that all these places become important. It’s got a nice epic sweep to it.
The Torchwood team comes out of retirement partly because it has no choice. The situation draws them out of hiding. Gwen is hidden and Jack has disappeared. The world changes and heroes rise. And then you have new people joining Torchwood. We begin with Rex investigating in Washington, uncovering the secrets of Torchwood. His assistant at the CIA, Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins), joins in. Slowly you have this new Torchwood team taking shape. The old and the new fighting for the future.
About coming to America with the series
Coming to the US for Torchwood (the organisation) is like another case. They’ve dealt with galaxies and universes, so another country is not that big of a deal. It is, however, a big deal for Gwen. She’s separated from her husband and from her child. She’s arrested and taken to America, so it’s heartbreaking on that level. But for Jack, he hits the ground running. For many years Torchwood (the series) has had an American actor in the lead role, so in that sense it feels entirely natural. For the show to hit America, I think it’s a new start without being a reboot. That’s what’s exciting about it. This is simply a new horizon. We have different producing partners, and it has added a new influx of imagination, and frankly, a bigger budget as well.
For the series coming to America, it’s just an infusion of energy. Whole new questions and things emerge that we’ve never thought about before. And it’s a new audience. We’re very, very proud of the Torchwood fan base, but I never believe these programmes should be cult or small. I think everyone in the world should be watching them. Starz, the writers, and the new cast, came on board because of the Torchwood of old. There’s no doubt about that. And that’s the greatest compliment of the show.