When we finally sat opposite Doctor Who's Russell T. Davies at Comic Con, there was only one question we were burning to ask him: Why exactly is the blonde ingenue Rose Tyler the most special of all the Doctor's companions?
This was part of a group interview with Davies and director Euros Lyn, where we were lucky enough to be able to ask some questions. Oh, and if you still haven't watched the most recent Torchwood miniseries, A) You are wasting your life on vain pursuits, and B) There's a spoiler for them below.
Why is Rose the most special?
So we had the impression, watching Davies' era of Doctor Who, that he regarded Rose Tyler as the most important, or most special, of the Doctor's companions. She's come back a couple of times, she was referenced constantly in the season after she left, and she got to keep her own duplicate of David Tennant's Doctor. So we asked Davies why Rose deserves to be so extraordinary. He replied:
I don't think she has been [treated as special]. I don't think I feel any more special when I'm writing Rose than when I'm writing any of the others. I think there's an iconography about Billie Piper. When the programme came back, it was the biggest advertised, most hyped-up programme in the world [and she was at the center of the imagery]. I'd never prefer her to Donna or Martha when writing her. But she was enormously popular and so — let's be blunt — every time I brought her back, the ratings went up. It's my job to make people come back to watch this. Sometimes people roll their eyes and go, "Oh, you've got another returning character." [To which I respond] "Yeah, leave me alone with my millions, thank you very much." So you know, it simply works. Plus we like Billie... So simply by dint of being her, she's come back the most often. I think that was a very special chemistry between her and Chris and between her and David, and it's very fondly remembered.
Adds Euros Lyn: "In that first series, she was the Doctor's equal, and equally as interesting as the Doctor, which was a revelation in the Doctor Who world."
The death of Ianto
And of course, RTD addressed the ongoing controversy about the death of Ianto Jones in the most recent Torchwood miniseries, "Children Of Earth." And Davies' comments will not appease the fans who feel he's been callous and dismissive. He called the backlash "massively exaggerated":
You know the campaign to send [packets of] coffee [to the BBC] to save Ianto's life? There's a campaign, because he was a coffee boy. But do you know how many packets of coffee they've received so far? Nine. So I think people writing online might sound like thousands of people, but they are nine. And they have the proof in the office, they are nine. And so when you say "Lots of people hated it, I challenge you [to prove it.] And that's the way you talk from online reaction, which is why I never follow online reaction. It's just untrue.
Director Euros Lyn added that it was important to show the "moral cost" that Jack has to pay to defeat the 456, as part of a story about "sacrifice and death." Not taking the characters to that place would "sell them short."
Children Of Earth was risky
Davies said he was acutely aware what a risky proposition "Children Of Earth" was — and not just because of its heavy political themes. He's always aware, working for the BBC, that he's spending the public's money (collected thorugh license fees) to make television. And he insisted that this miniseries had to air consecutively over five nights, not spread out over five weeks, because of the way it was structured. The bosses at the BBC kept changing, and the new bosses would try to change Davies' mind and switch it to running every Friday — but Davies stuck to his guns. And he was terrified it would fail, and he'd have "damaged" a whole week of BBC One programming.
"I thought it was good, and I was proud of it," said Davies. If it had flopped and everyone had hated it, "I was willing to wear my martyrdom through Comic Con."
What's next for Torchwood?
Just like everyone else we've talked to, Davies was fairly uncertain about the future of Torchwood, despite its great ratings. But he did say he felt the show had "found its tone," so future outings would definitely be one continuous story - possibly five episodes, possibly longer. But definitely, there'll be no return to "monster of the week" type stories. He liked the way the miniseries had "Torchwood" followed by the subtitle "Children Of Earth," making it part of the show's title. So that'll probably happen again next time.
Added Davies: "Torchwood has become an umbrella for telling a good story. This wasn't anything to do with Cardiff, or the rift," or any other standard elements of the show.
If the show does come back, "everyone who survived" will return as well. But the show will also do what "Children Of Earth" did with John Frobisher and the other new supporting cast — introduce a whole new set of characters. Davies doesn't believe in replacing a character after he/she is killed off, because it seems heartless, like buying a new puppy right after your dog dies. That's why, in "Children Of Earth," he deliberately introduced a "replacement" for Owen — and then shot him.