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 4 - subtitled Miracle Day - originally aired on SABC1 from 28 May to 30 July, 2012, on Mondays at 22h00. New episodes broadcast weekly.
Season 4 premiered on SABC3 on Wednesday 20 March 2013, at 21h00. New episodes broadcast weekly. There are 10 episodes in the fourth and final season.
One day, nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies. And then the next day, and the next, and the next, people keep aging - they get hurt and sick - but they never die.
The result: a population boom, overnight.
With all the extra people, resources are finite. It's said that in four month's time, the human race will cease to be viable. But this can't be a natural event – someone's got to be behind it.
It's a race against time as C.I.A. agent Rex Matheson investigates a global conspiracy. The answers lie within an old, secret British institute.
As Rex keeps asking "What is Torchwood?", he's drawn into a world of adventure and a threat to change what it means to be human, forever.
Torchwood: Miracle Day stars John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Mekhi Phifer as Rex Matheson and Bill Pullman as Oswald Danes.
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.
Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer)
Rex Matheson is a CIA agent at the top of his game. Ruthless, brilliant and destined for fast-track promotion, nothing's going to stop this man from getting whatever he wants in life.
But when the world convulses under Miracle Day, Rex discovers that everything he thought was true and safe and fair is now in danger. And when the CIA itself turns against him, Rex finds himself on the run. The only people he can trust are some strangers from a long-lost British institute called Torchwood.
Rex finds himself traveling across continents as the scale and ambition of the threat is revealed - but in trying to save the world, will he put his own life at risk once too often?
Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman)
Well-educated and a former school teacher, Oswald's a convicted child killer, both guilty and unrepentant. But when Oswald survives his own execution, he's given a whole new life.
The most infamous man in the world, he becomes the most provocative figure in modern media. He's a flare, reviled yet mesmerizing, whose very existence embodies how the world changed on Miracle Day.
Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins)
Esther is an innocent, in a world of assassins, liars and zealots. She got where she is with the CIA through diligence and application. Hard work keeps Esther focused but she still dreams of active duty as a field agent serving her country.
The dream is going to happen faster than she thinks and in no time at all, Esther finds herself running alongside Jack, Gwen and Rex, living off the grid, gun in hand, fighting a global conspiracy against enemies ranging from big business to the state.
It's a tough, brutal, hard lifestyle where survival is hard won and life-changing choices have to be made.
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