Torchwood is a British science fiction drama television series created by Russell T Davies and produced in-house by BBC Wales as a spin-off of Davies' reimagined Doctor Who series which deals with the machinations and activities of the Cardiff branch of the fictional Torchwood Institute, who deal mainly with incidents involving extraterrestrials.
The series premiered in the UK on BBC Three on 22 October, 2006. It moved to BBC Two for Season 2, to BBC One for Season 3 and to Starz in the USA for Season 4. There are 41 hour-long episodes in four seasons.
Torchwood premiered in South Africa on DStv's BBC Entertainment channel on Sunday 18 January 2009, at 20h00, directly after the Season 3 premiere of Doctor Who. The fourth season also aired on SABC1 and SABC3. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.
Season 1 aired on BBC Entertainment from 18 January to 12 April, 2009, on Sundays at 20h00. New episodes broadcast weekly. There are 13 episodes in the first season.
From the pen of Doctor Who creator Russell T Davies, Torchwood follows the adventures of a team of investigators that uses alien technology to solve crime - some terrestrial, some not.
Separate from the government, outside the police, beyond the United Nations: Torchwood sets its own rules. Led by the enigmatic Captain Jack Harkness, the Torchwood team delves into the unknown and frequently uncovers the impossible.
Alongside the charismatic Captain Jack is Gwen. Initially an outsider, her first meeting with the team sparks a burning curiosity to get to the truth, throwing her into an unfamiliar but exciting world.
Clear and instinctive, she understands people and is, at times, the group’s conscience. Her biigest challenge is to completely separate herself from her normal life.
The rest of the team is made up of medic Owen Harper, who's young and hedonistic but brilliant; reserved Toshiko Sato, who specialises in computers, surveillance and all things technical; the super-intelligent and intense Suzie Costello, who has devoted her life to the strange alien artefacts under her control; and Ianto Jones, who is far more important than his receptionist’s role suggests.
From an underground base built on a rift in time and space, the team responds to any alien threat - a meterorite crash landing, sightings of extra-terrestrial technology, an unusual autopsy report, or the spread of a deadly alien virus.
The Torchwood Institute is the name of a secret organisation set up to combat alien threats to the human race.
Initially founded by Queen Victoria herself, Torchwood's head office was based in the Canary Wharf tower in London's docklands.
However, a devastating alien attack (shown in the Doctor Who episode Doomsday) left virtually the entire staff dead, the organisation without a leader and the tiny Cardiff field office left to defend humanity on its own.
Well, almost on its own...
Torchwood's small Cardiff office (known as The Hub) was established at the end of the 19th Century, on top of a rift in space and time.
People, objects and creatures from across the Universe and from all periods of time often find themselves 'washed up' in Cardiff - and it's Torchwood's job to assess if they pose a threat to humanity, and to either capture or destroy them if they do or to take care of them if they don't.
Torchwood often works in partnership with UNIT, the Unified Intelligence Taskforce - a large-scale international armed force with many decades of experience in fighting alien invasions of Earth.
Jack Harkness (John Barrowman)
The origins of Torchwood's team leader, Jack, are obscure and he likes it that way. However, he has vast practical experience of working with aliens and dealing with crisis situations.
He has come through a lot of scrapes intact and is unafraid of dangerous situations. In fact, he's usually ready with a flirtatious quip whatever the threat.
Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles)
A former police officer, Gwen brings procedural skills to the team and a sensitivity that helps them greatly in dealing with victims. She is grounded, straightforward, and very determined, and, in the murky world of Torchwood, she often acts as the team's conscience.
Her ability to coordinate activity has led to her being recognised as the team's deputy leader.
Dr. Owen Harper (Burn Gorman)
Owen trained as a medical doctor, but since joining Torchwood has expanded his expertise massively. As well as attending to the team's emergency medical needs and working on the human victims of alien activity, he has gained much expertise in alien anatomy.
He is very confident in his abilities - some would say over-confident - but his commitment to his duty has never been doubted.
Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori)
The team's technical expert is quiet but highly intelligent. One of the main purposes of Torchwood is to assess the potential application of alien technology for humanity's use, and this is Toshiko's job.
She also has a keen understanding of practical physics, which makes her useful as a field agent. She is focused and intensely professional, though sensitive.
Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd)
Ianto deals with all the team's administrative issues. His knowledge is eclectic, his attention to detail unrivalled, and his ability to anticipate the team's needs before they arise is uncanny.
He dislikes it when his remarkable efficiency is taken for granted, however, and when required, he is also more than capable of undertaking field work for the team.
Note: the first three seasons aired on BBC Entertainment, after which the SABC purchased the rights to it for Season 4.
Season 1 (13 episodes)
Channel: BBC Entertainment | Premiere: 18 Jan 2009 | Finale: 12 Apr 2009 | Sundays, 20h00
Season 2 (13 episodes)
Channel: BBC Entertainment | Premiere: 3 Jan 2010 | Finale: 28 Mar 2010 | Sundays, 18h25
Season 3 (5 episodes)
Channel: BBC Entertainment | Premiere: 11 Oct 2010 | Finale: 8 Nov 2010 | Mondays, 21h35
Season 4 (10 episodes)
Channel: SABC1 | Premiere: 28 May 2012 | Finale: 30 Jul 2012 | Mondays, 22h00
Channel: SABC3 | Premiere: 20 Mar 2013 | Finale: 22 May 2013 | Wednesdays, 21h00