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Feature: Torchwood

Gardner's World

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Starburst recently caught up with executive producer Julie Gardner to discuss the forthcoming second season

Friday July 13th 2007, and Starburst is enjoying a three-week residency at the TCAs. Here, at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, the Television Critics of America are presented with the stars and producers of the networks’ upcoming shows. And today is a reunion of sorts, because executive producer Julie Gardner and Captain Jack himself, John Barrowman, have flown in to promote the Stateside début of Torchwood on BBC America.

We got some one-on-one time with Gardner, as she discussed Torchwood’s new frontier, its upcoming second season and what lies ahead for Doctor Who

What do you think the reaction of US audiences will be to Torchwood?
I hope it’ll be good. Who knows – I’m talking as a British person – but it feels like an American show in terms of its pace and format. I hope it works. I love working on it, I love that we’ve gone to a second series – it did incredibly well in Britain.

Some people have detected a few influences from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel in the series…
I think that’s true, actually. Certainly when Russell and I were talking about Doctor Who and then Torchwood we were talking about all the shows we love and a lot of those shows are Buffy, Angel, Smallville and now Battlestar Galactica. We were talking a lot about the pace of storytelling, the way that those shows mix a lot of comedy – certainly in the Joss Whedon shows. I think it’s more about TV series in Britain and America starting to share attributes, in terms of production quality and pace.

There’s a big difference in how shows are made between the two countries, isn’t there? In the US an episode is shot in seven to eight days; in the UK it takes 10 or 12…
That is true, we’re much slower in our production process than you are in the States. But I think that’s a combination of things. It’s a combination of different union rules. It’s a combination of the size of our crews. It’s kind of much smaller than here. Our equipment is much smaller. It’s a very, very different way of a system working. For example, we’ll keep a director in the edit for much longer. So a director on something like Torchwood would have probably about four weeks prep. We’ll shoot an episode in, say, 10, 11, 12 days and that director will be on that episode for the next two weeks, and we’ll come in to the final mix.

Looking back to when you were initially casting Captain Jack for Doctor Who, what was it about John Barrowman that clicked?
We had seen him in a lot of theatre and musicals and we just knew he had a presence. We knew he was a good actor and we were looking for somebody very fresh. We were really interested in using an American, which would make the flavour of the show different. It was just easy to cast John – he’s just extraordinary.

John said that your first meeting about Torchwood took place on the day of the London tube bombings.
That was completely surreal. Obviously it was a horrible, horrible day. John wanted to just keep going – he was working and I was due to see [his show]. It was a very strange time.

Read the full interview, and also Freema Agyeman on playing Martha Jones, in
Starburst #353

Photo © BBCtv
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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Starburst #353, see below for ordering options
Starburst #353
August 2007
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