Torchwood to return in BBC / Starz deal with ‘explosive and global’ story

TORCHWOOD is set to return to our screens in a 10-episode series in summer 2011 after the BBC struck a deal with the American pay TV channel Starz.

A press release today said Russell T Davies will continue as showrunner on the Doctor Who spin-off, while John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness and Eve Miles as Gwen Cooper will return too.

After two hit and miss series and the exceptional Children of Earth five-parter (read my Children of Earth review here), new Torchwood is said to have a broader scope than before, following the scorched earth finale of CofE.

The press release said: “The new series will allow Davies and his writing team to tell a more explosive and global story, one that takes advantage of the unlimited narrative opportunities of a premium television service like Starz.”

That appears to open up American and European locations, while more cast members will be announced soon, again reflecting the new international feel of the show.

I’m still making up my mind on how good this news is.

On the one hand the combination of RTD’s nous and American money will add some weight to Torchwood, which struggled to live up to its billing at times. The original team is still involved too, which is a good move.

Having said that, Children of Earth was brilliant and I would have been happy for the show to end on such a dramatic high point. I’d hate to see that legacy tarnished by over-Americanising the adventures of Jack and co.

If you’re wondering who the hell Starz is, then you’re not alone as I had never heard of them either.

One quick Google search later revealed they are a US pay TV channel which specialised in showing recent hit movies across six channels.

However they also have a burgeoning reputation for developing their own programming, most notably with Spartacus: Blood and Sand, currently airing in the UK on Bravo.

Although it is primarily Gladiator with added 300-style blood and nudity, the fact Starz would get behind that kind of more adult programming with a great cast seems to make them much better partners for Torchwood than Fox, which the show was linked with earlier this year.

If nothing else the amount of shagging in Spartacus means Captain Jack will be free to go spuds deep on any species he wants – all bets are off!

Here are some more quotes from the press release – make of them what you wish!

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning said: “We have a long history of working with many U.S. networks, but it is incredibly exciting to be working with Starz for the first time, as well as to be reunited with the best of British in Russell, Jane and Julie. ‘Torchwood’ will burst back onto the screen with a shocking and moving story with global stakes and locations that will make it feel bigger and bolder than ever.”

“We’re committed to programming exceptional television that is entertaining, imaginative and provides a premium TV experience, and by any measure the new concept for ‘Torchwood’ fits that mandate,” Starz, LLC, President and CEO Chris Albrecht said. “I’ve been part of successful partnerships with Jane Tranter and the BBC previously, and I’m very much looking forward to working with them again.”

“‘Torchwood’ has attracted remarkable attention and loyalty in both the UK and U.S., and in this new partnership with Starz, the next chapter will not only reward our current fans, but also introduce new viewers to the most impressive installment yet,” said Jane Tranter, EVP, BBC Worldwide Productions. “Chris Albrecht and his team are committed to delivering quality premium programming to their subscribers, also a core attribute of the BBC, and we are excited to be working with them as the ‘Torchwood’ adventure continues.”

“Russell, Jane and Julie came to us with a compelling vision for the evolution of the ‘Torchwood’ saga that really takes the story into whole new areas,” added Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of Starz Media – the production and development division of Starz. “The compelling story and characters this trio created provide a strong template for driving this narrative in exciting ways.”

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