Torchwood gains its own convention
SCI-FI drama Torchwood has joined the ranks of cult hits like Star Trek, Star Wars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer after the announcement of a convention dedicated to the show.
Fans of the BBC Wales-produced series will be able to find out more about the show at a new one-day event.
Actress Eve Myles will be among the guest stars taking part in the Torchwood special at the Porchester Hall in London on April 26.
Myles, who plays police woman-turned-alien-hunter Gwen Cooper, will be answering questions, posing for photographs and signing memorabilia.
She will be joined by former Buffy star and Torchwood guest actor James Marsters, Gareth David-Lloyd, who plays Ianto, former Neighbours and Ugly Betty actor Alan Dale and Torchwood producer Richard Stokes.
It is further proof that the Doctor Who spin-off from Swansea writer Russell T Davies is becoming cult viewing.
Myles, who lives in Cardiff, says she is still amazed when she gets stopped in the street by fans who recognise her from the series, which pulled in more than two million viewers when it made its debut on BBC3 before switching to mainstream channel BBC2.
“I am surprised by the popularity of Torchwood,” said Myles, who won a Bafta Cymru Award for the role last year. “When you go into a job you never expect it to have such an effect.
“I had got used to being known in Wales but actually getting stopped by people in London who now know me from Torchwood is a whole new kettle of fish.
“People are very kind and are genuinely pleased for me.
“The convention highlights how Torchwood is becoming a cult show so to play a lead in it is awesome.”
Although Torchwood, which stars John Barrowman as Captain Jack, is a Doctor Who spin-off, it is regarded as more accessible to non sci-fi fans.
“We are getting people who never watch sci-fi as there’s also a strong element of domestic drama,” said Myles, who shot to fame in the Welsh soap Belonging.
“People really enjoy it because they like the characters and can identify with them.
“Kids of seven or eight send me letters as do people in their 70s – there’s no target audience as such.”
So popular is the show that dolls are now being made of the characters, including Gwen, and they are expected to be launched later this year.
“I think it’s hilarious. I know I’m sorted for Christmas presents for the next five years.”
She’s now looking forward to the convention.
“It’s going to be good – it’s lovely that people are so keen.”
Don Parker, popular culture specialist at the University of Wales, Newport, says conventions were usually enjoyable experiences – but they could also be bad.
He said, “They allow people to connect on a different level with the show but, if the actors and creators are not in the right spirits, they can be very disappointing.
“I think this one (Torchwood) will be a success though and it will probably grow and grow.
“If the makers develop it and embrace it, it will just make their brand even stronger. It’s an important day for both sides.
“Doctor Who fans are pretty obsessive in nature. It’s not just like watching a soap opera, they really connect with what happens.
“There’s a real sense of life, love and loss with these programmes. Science fiction can deal with real life issues like war and death but still make them seem distant from reality by placing them in another world.
“Torchwood has been so successful because it really allows old Doctor Who fans to re-engage with a familiar concept while bringing in a new generation of fans.
“I know people in their 40s that are ecstatic about the show.
“It is a strong concept and it’s important they have localised it to Cardiff. It draws fans in because it gives them a sense of ownership over the programme.”