The fourth series of Torchwood premieres tonight on BBC One. Entitled Torchwood: Miracle Day, the new series of what was originally developed and produced by BBC Wales, is co-produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and US cable premium channel Starz. Starz actually airs Miracle Day in America since last week.
Torchwood was launched in 2006 as a spin-off of Doctor Who and its fourth incarnation arrives two years after Torchwood: Children of Earth, the five one-hour episode ambitious miniseries. While the tough budget climate inevitably impacts BBC dramas in general, Doctor Who seems ratings-wise satisfying enough and is commercially at the top (1) under showrunner Steven Moffat's tenure. Although a handful of old fans may discuss the quality of the first batch of episodes from its sixth series, and others worry about the 2012 "scheduling saga" controversy and two exec producers leaving for other jobs.
But Torchwood fans have their share of worries too, proportionally to the amount of American money in Miracle Day and the fact that it was shot mainly stateside. The precedents of US financial involvement in British dramas like Hustle or the 2009 remake of The Prisoner don't help at all. Fans expect the presence of exec producers Russell T. Davies (creator of Torchwood), Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter on board to be the guarantee of the programme's integrity. No wonder why loyal Doctor Who enthusiasts have fears about the possibility of a US backing in the future.
Russell T. Davies recently denied this could happen (2). In 2010, Jane Tranter (former BBC drama boss and now BBCW exec vp of programming and production) reassured fans that a US version of the adventures of their favourite Time Lord was not on the agenda (3). But the Doctor Who Series Six two-parter opener (filmed in the United States) was a "BBC America and BBC Wales co-production", and money is too tight these days to quickly rule out the idea that the new Torchwood business model could fit Who's production necessities.
For now tonight's THE night. But is Captain Jack back or has John Barrowan helped a US premium channel to make a dream come true by having some Torchwood actors guest-starring in a new American sci-fi show?