Starz Executive Talks New Torchwood Series

Torchwood fans rejoiced yesterday as it was announced Starz had picked up the U.S. rights for a new season, set to debut next summer.

The 10-episode series, produced by BBC Worldwide Productions, will air in the U.S. exclusively on Starz and in the U.K. on BBC One. BBC Worldwide Productions was negotiating a similar deal with Fox, but talks ended with the announcement of its new original program, Terra Nova.

As we reported yesterday, the new series — the fourth for Torchwood, following 2009′s five-part Children of Earth — will feature the return of John Barrowman and Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, and Russell T. Davies as showrunner.

For more on the announcement, Spinoff Online spoke with Stephan Shelanski, Starz’s senior vice president of programming and originals.

Spinoff Online: What was it about Torchwood as a property that intrigued the leadership at Starz?

Stephan Shelanski: Torchwood has a definite following in this country already and certainly internationally, as well. It’s beneficial for us to take a show that already has some awareness and a very loyal fanbase and bring them to Starz.

Did the deal come together quickly after negotiations between BBC Worldwide Productions and Fox ended?

It came together pretty quickly. BBC approached us and wanted to see if we were interested. This is a successful show that they’ve had for many years on BBC and they thought it was time to make the show appeal to a larger audience, to a U.S. audience, so we decided to partner with them to make the show, basically, more of an international show with a big U.S. component to appeal to U.S. audiences.

Do you foresee the transition of Torchwood from a British-based hit to more heavily influenced American series an easy one?

I think it can be. There are certainly lots of precedents of international shows that have become very successful in the U.S. and I think this one will also lend itself well. We’re going to tweak it and try to make sure, at least the parts shot here in the U.S. or North America, we’re not sure where it’s going to be shot, it has all the elements that will appeal to our audience. But yes, in general, I think it will be a pretty easy transition.

By tweaking, I hope you don’t mean a quantum leap in terms of concept and characterization.

No, no, no. Just minor. If you look at Torchwood, and I have to admit I haven’t seen it from its origination through all its seasons on the BBC, but in conversations with the BBC, they’ve surely adjusted it season to season. So I think this is more of a natural progression. It’s not going to take any quantum leaps in change. It will be a natural progression.

And Russell T. Davies will be heavily involved?

Having him involved in the show was essential to giving us the confidence to move forward. He being involved was one of the key components.

With both writing and production?

That’s right.

And to reconfirm, John Barrowman and Eve Myles will be back, too?

Yes.

What about the crew and the production side of the equation? Will these roles be filled with Torchwood veterans?

We don’t know yet. That remains to be seen. We still have to figure all of that out and see who the final cast and crew is going to be. We just know that we’ve got it under contract and we’re excited about it. And we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.

Because the plan is to release Series 4 in summer 2011?

Yes.

Might we hear some more news at Comic-Con?

I don’t know if it will be Comic-Con exactly, but soon we’ll be making more announcements about rounding out the cast, production schedule, all that information. I imagine that will all be coming soon.

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/marvelboy74 Todd Ramsey

    So glad that Fox is not involved. Starz has shown they are willing to push the envelope with shows. Torchwood is very much a cable program.

  • TMS

    I agree, Fox could not handle a show like Torchwood and they definitely would have ruined it. I cannot WAIT for this show to come back. Super excited!!

  • http://twitter.com/IAmEricPete Eric Pete

    Starz? Torchwood? This is gonna be GOOD. So glad it's returning.

  • spidarwin

    “BBC Worldwide Productions was negotiating a similar deal with Fox, but talks ended with the announcement of its new original program, Terra Nova.”
    Oh, for the love of God…

    Will EVERYONE PLEASE pay attention to the history of Sci Fi at Fox!?!

    As soon as anything remotely against the inherent political bias (outlaw heroes, for
    example) comes up, POW! Fox cancels it, unless it's become too popular to
    cancel (the X-Files being this case).

    Space: Above and Beyond
    Millenium
    Firefly…

  • Dean

    that dude just let slip that he hasn't really seen the show. i hope the people in charge of the deal know what they're doing….

  • Dartfin

    So Ianto? Though to be fair I haven't seen Children of Earth or indeed past episode 3 for the second series (thanks Netflix!), but he showed up at the end of the David Tennant episodes of DW when Torchwood helped out so Im sure he lives…

  • http://www.spinoffonline.com Kevin Melrose

    You may want to watch Children of Earth

  • http://corporate-sellout.com Thad

    Cautiously optimistic. I thought the first two seasons were pretty bad with a few good episodes, and Children of Earth was fantastic up until it fell apart in the final episode (an unfortunate trend in RTD's work).

    I liked how CoE worked as one long arc, but I'm hoping the Season 4 arc doesn't subsume individual episodes — I don't like monster-of-the-week stuff, but on the other hand I love one-offs like Out of Time and Captain Jack Harkness (which was a great standalone episode with annoying season-ending-arc stuff stuck on at the end).

    RTD can do great work, but he's not good at restraint. He seems to have a perpetual need to up the stakes and top himself every season, and by season 3 of Doctor Who it got downright silly. (By season 4…well, was there really any rationalization for that story beyond “We already did Daleks, Cybermen, and the Master, so now we have to work Davros in”?)

    Anyway. Rambling. All that to say, Children of Earth was mostly great and I'm hoping the new season keeps up that level of quality.

  • http://corporate-sellout.com Thad

    Futurama, Dollhouse…

    (I don't think it's really a matter of political bias, though. Fox-the-broadcast-station has ALWAYS aired the kind of stuff that Fox-the-cable-station objects to, in a kind of weird symbiosis. Simpsons had some fun with that one a few years back, actually. Best chalk this one up to Hanlon's Razor; stuff at Fox doesn't get cancelled because it goes against the party line, it gets cancelled because it doesn't get the support it needs to find an audience.)

  • http://www.spinoffonline.com Kevin Melrose

    Yeah, I don't think it has anything to do with politics. Fox just has a history of picking up offbeat shows — from Firefly to Futurama to Arrested Development — and then promptly not knowing what to do with them. Other networks do it, too, of course, but it seems like Fox's repeated mishandling of “fringe” shows (no pun intended) is more apparent.

  • Jason

    Not much into pay channels on TV…already pay enough for basic cable. guess I'll just wait until it's on DVD.

  • David

    True Blood, Rome, Dexter. All these shows I much rather watch on DVD as I'm sure I will with the new Torchwood. Glad to hear it's back however.

  • Dori

    But hey remember Kevin, RTD likes to do stories like Doomsday to be followed up later by stories like Turn Left… and stories like Last of the Time Lords with The End of Time

    All the while being on record as saying he “likes saying no way not returning just so he can turn around and then capitalize of the story where the character comes back”

  • sb40

    Okay I'm going to be snarky and geeky but quantum leap means a very small change.

  • Tcrawford712

    What about Yonto (sp) Jones? He was one of the characters that also lived through the end of the series?

  • DONNAKAYMITCHELL

    I LOVED A LOT OF SHOWS THAT THAY JUST LET GOAWAY I AM SO HAPPY THAT THIS ON WAS SAVED AND HOPE IT GOES AS BIG AS I KNOW IT CAN