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