"Capt. Jack's sexuality is certainly not going to change. Whether it's man, woman or alien, Capt. Jack is a gloriously sexually active being."
The occasion for that priceless quote from BBC Worldwide exec veep Jane Tranter is today's news that "Torchwood," popular in the U.K. and a rising cult hit in the U.S., will begin a new season of 10 episodes that will premiere Stateside on Starz in summer 2011, thanks to a new co-production deal between Starz, BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Worldwide.
"Torchwood" has aired for three seasons in the U.K., the most recent of which was broadcast by BBC America last summer as the miniseries "Torchwood: Children of Earth," to great critical notices and historic ratings for the cabler. Show creator Russell T. Davies ("Doctor Who") already has a premiere script and season bible for the coming campaign, which will take advantage of the new international co-production deal to produce the most global story yet for the series.
"Jane always had this global aim that I really loved, because that's the way drama's going now," Davies said. "Everything's downloaded, and your stuff goes around the world in seconds. When I worked on Doctor Who,' our highest viewing levels were in South Korea. ... It's nice that drama sort of reflects that."
Davies said the upcoming season of "Torchwood" involves a global crisis, "but always being handled with a lot of wit and a lot of truth and a lot of darkness."
Davies began envisioning the new season of "Torchwood" before the pursuit of a new deal began — "It felt mad not to continue it," he said — and was able to present a season premiere script and preliminary bible that sold Starz on the project.
The coming season will contain a story arc that comes to full completion at season's end. It will pick up after "Children of Earth" left off, but in a fashion that doesn't require new viewers to have knowledge of previous episodes, he said.
In addition to John Barrowman's Capt. Jack Harkness and Eve Myles' Gwen Cooper (pictured above), there will be two other series regulars and a host of recurring characters. Davies said he was never worried about having to compromise on Jack's sexuality or make any significant changes to cater more directly to an American audience.
"I'm sure if this was a network show that question would be stronger, but Starz gives you the freedom to use your own voice," Davies said.
"I invented the original 'Queer as Folk.' You don't get something like that worrying about the network. ... I think it's well-known ('Torchwood') was developed at Fox — they have 'Glee,' for goodness sake, as if anyone was going to worry about Capt. Jack. The representations of homosexuality on American television are much more strong and diverse than on British television."
Davies did add that, hypothetically "if someone had asked me to compromise in a way that caused me heartache, I would have walked away."
As evidenced by the tumult of "Children of Earth," "Torchwood" isn't exactly a show afraid of confrontation and change, and above all, that's what Davies hopes will continue forward.
"'Torchwood' became a banner title for stories that have a fantasy element that affects the human race," Davies said. "'Torchwood' takes the metaphor out: This is how we repsond to a crisis. (It tests) what human beings are capable of in a good way and a bad way."
Added Tranter: "'Torchwood' will have, as it has always had, a significantly impactful story that powers all the way through the season, that is clearly and reasonably accessible and understandable, and beneath that, in true Russell T. Davies fashion, will be a number of layers of complexity."