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July 07, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Torchwood. Didn't that used to be on the radio? An every day story of Welsh folk. Designed by committee to fill a gap in the prestigious afternoon wireless schedules. Something to take the joint key demographics of starchy retired colonels and 90-something Daily Mail reading ladies who lynch from the end of The Arches through to Money Box Live without allowing them to fully realise the futility of eternity and attempt suicide by overdosing on clotted cream teas.

Accompanied by a massive semen stain which will all but obscure You and Yours.

I begin to wonder whether it was any more than a series of quirks of fate that resulted in three Torchwood plays being commissioned for Radio 4? At the end of time, when Broadcasting House is turned over totally for a Lenin style mausoleum to Nigel Rees, there'll be this odd little deformed footnote in the Home Service's illustrious history that will read, "Torchwood Wuz 'Ere". And it'll probably be accompanied by a massive semen stain which will all but obscure You and Yours. It's win-win!

Perhaps we're witnessing the maturing of a television programme here. The young upstart packed off, unceremoniously, to attend a BBC3 bootcamp, where it had all its adolescence anger, swearing and sex hammered out of it to allow it to grace BBC2's somewhat more discerning palate. There it grew out of its acne, its tone lowered and its balls dropped onto an open copy of the Radio Times. Only to be turned over to BBC1 when the great schedulers in the sky deemed it worthy, and suitably cleansed, to be presented to the wider public. Progression along these lines can only lead to one thing, corduroys, Geography teacher style patches on a tweed jacket and series 4 premièring on BBC4 as a series of darkly lit, smoky monologues where the key characters debate existential concepts whilst being seduced by the cleverest man alive dressed in nothing but sock suspenders.

Children of Earth: Day One

It's scientifically proven, probably, that you can't watch anything made in Wales without being reminded of Gavin and Stacey 17 times a minute. And Torchwood's no exception. From Gwen's opening gambit, channeling Ruth Jones' character, "What's occuring, Glynn?" to the slightly odd relationship between two of the key male characters. Of course, whereas you've got Uncle Bryn and Jason's unspecified fishing trip history in the latter, here you've got something whole lot odder going on. "It's not men, it's just him", is how he describes it to his sister. Presumably he also said, of half cyber converted Lisa, "It's not all tin cans, it's just her".

Victoria Derbyshire's phone-in number on speed dial.

Whilst still peppered with faults we're a country mile from the likes of Countrycide and Cyberwoman here. Like when the children first stopped dead, saying that it was random enough for no-one to notice. What?! In a world of rolling news coverage and citizen journalists everywhere with camera phones, an over inflated opinion of their own opinions and Victoria Derbyshire's phone-in number on speed dial if even two children simultaneously did something there'd be BREAKING NEWS flashes quicker than you can say Twitter. You've gotta be concerned for alien hunters when geo-tagging trends on social networks seem as far outside their sphere of understanding as gravity is to an ant. And when a triple deadlock might be enough to fox a serious alien menace but is nothing when it comes to an arse wielding chav, you've gotta be careful.

Where were all the porno flicks in the Home Office?

But perhaps the main problem wasn't even of Torchwood's making. Thanks to crusading broadsheets I can now no longer take British politics seriously. I mean, where were all the porno flicks in the Home Office that the Secreatry of State had inadvertently claimed for? How many duck islands were there lurking in ministerial red cases? It's a bit (i.e. not much) like the way they'll have to depict American politics in future feature films. All those years when they equated edgy with casting a black President. And now we've got one in real life where else is there to go? Female president? What happens in 2012 when Sarah Palin becomes President and or 2016 when it's Hilary's turn? What then? President Mallard, the first quacking President? The first, that is, if you overlook that episode in the 60's with ------------- [text redacted for legal reasons].

And what, precisely, does putting UNIT up to Yellow Alert actually entail? I'm pretty sure The Claws of Axos episode one podcast dealt with UNIT alert bulb colouring and if I'm remembering it correctly a Yellow alert means pack enough lead weights, maggots and waders for a 5 day retreat...

Cos it's about to get complicated.

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