Hurrah. No more secrets about the word ‘Dad’, no more secret swoons at Doctor Rupesh, no more pondering Lois’ fierceness, no more trying to remember how amazing Ianto & his sisters scene was, no more random muttering about the 456. After teasing you earlier in the year, Torchwood has finally aired and first reaction on twitter seems very positive. I can’t wait to see the rest of the series!
So now the issue is off the shelves, here’s my Torchwood piece for last month’s Attitude. It was my first TV piece and the first thing I’ve had to write that’s been over about 600 words since I left university. Lots of fun. See it after the bump
“People ask me a lot what it’s like to kiss John Barrowman,” explains Torchwood’s Gareth David Lloyd, “but to me it’s not an issue – it’s just like kissing any girl I’m not really attracted to. John’s rubbish of course,” he laughs, “but I’m helping him get better.” Playing Ianto, the lover of Barrowman’s time agent hero Captain Jack, Gareth was first introduced to viewers as the man who “gets everywhere on time… and looks good in a suit”.
He’s since turned from teaboy to action hero, especially in the show’s new mini-series Children Of Earth, which hits BBC1 this summer in a move from its BBC2 slot. Originally conceived as Doctor Who’s older and darker cousin, the last two series of Torchwood have been packed full of sexual innuendo, bisexual twists and lots of snogging. Written by Russell T Davies of Queer As Folk fame o’course, perhaps it’s not really a surprise. “I didn’t know exactly the way Ianto was going to go when I started out in the role,” Gareth says of playing one half of television’s most exciting same- sex couples, “but there was always a lot of flirtation between the two men from the off.” The relationship between Jack and Ianto plays a central part in the new series, right through to episode one’s explosive climax. “Jack’s always been a tart but now he’s a one-man man. It’s great having a relationship with the star of the show – it means I get more lines!”
For this 28-year-old, Torchwood’s promotion from BBC2 is a big deal, although he has been on BBC1 before. “I played a man training for a race who started taking amphetamines. It was on Casualty, and he died – obviously,” he deadpans. Despite the move into primetime, he insists Torchwood hasn’t been tweaked to fit a more mainstream audience, describing the new series as its “darkest story yet”. Set around the threat of an alien race called the 456 who attack Earth using children, the team must first deal with the enemy within as the government turn against them.
Born and raised in Newport, Gareth finds the idea of “walking through the Tardis” to get to work each day a long way away from the estate on which he grew up. Finding his love of theatre thanks to his aunt spotting his artistic side, his years in training were spent working with local Welsh theatre groups, studying performing arts at college and doing a stint with the National Youth Theatre, where he met the new Doctor Who, Matt Smith, a man he describes as “an innovative and imaginative actor”. Doctor Who fans, can squeal, faint and have a little lie down at the excitement of it all, here. Now splitting his time between Cardiff and London, Gareth’s happily engaged to girlfriend Gemma, who is quite nonplussed that her man gets to live out many a man’s filthiest dreams by getting down and dirty with Barrowman.
“He’s got quite a reputation, I’d agree, but despite any threats, John is totally professional the moment the director says ‘action’,” Gareth explains when we suggest that the omnipresent star might try and make kissing rehearsals last longer. “He makes those scenes where we have to take our tops off and get down to it really easy. In fact mine has been the only wandering hands. We had to put our hands in each other’s trousers last year and I accidentally touched his tackle. He didn’t mind but it scarred me for life.” In further gaiety, Gareth’s also just finished filming short movie A Very British Affair, which revolves around a fictional national drag competition set in Cardiff’s much-loved Minsky’s Showbar. “I play Brian Jones, the host who’s trying to fix the contest for the tranny he’s sleeping with. I’m very orange wearing lots of gold and a white suit with a pink shirt – I look like David Dickinson’s love child!” Gareth explains bashfully. “I’ve not been to a drag show before, but the girls in the show were professional drag queens and they certainly know how to have a good time.”
As for future plans, Torchwood’s popularity in America looks set to give Gareth’s career overseas a boost once Ianto’s time is due. “I’d love to do another Torchwood mini-series, but also an American studio drama,” he says. “I love shows like Six Feet Under and Dexter so doing something like that would be brilliant,” he says. “I’d also love to have a crack at Macbeth. Doing some theatre would be brilliant.”
But for now, all focus is on Torchwood and Ianto’s big gay journey. Having previously had a girlfriend in series one, he’s like so many growing up: confused and unsure about where exactly he fits in. There’s an adorable scene where Ianto shyly pulls the Craig-and-John-Paul card, professing his love for Captain Jack by claiming it’s not all men – it’s just him.
“I wouldn’t want to say he was just gay,” writer and one man televisual genius, Russell T Davies later tells us. “I’ve seen people doing coming-out scenes sitting there crying a million times. I was writing that 15 years ago. Bollocks to that. It’s time to move on. It’s much more interesting to see Ianto not know himself. He doesn’t have a category and it makes it a bit more modern, a bit more real.” “Because the show deals with same-sex relationships as nothing special, just something that exists, that’s how I approach it,” continues Gareth. “But it’s nice to get letters from lads who were scared to tell their parents they were gay and have been inspired to tell people thanks to Ianto and Jack. The strangest thing is that when I go to conventions and meet fans, it’s more often than not girl couples who show up dressed as us. Girls seem to empathise with him more.”
But what is it about Jack? “He’s sexy and stunningly good looking. He’s strong, protective, a hero… he accepts and inspires Ianto.” We almost get swept away in the romance of it all before crashing down to earth and remembering this is television, rather than real life. Sadness. And this is after all John Barrowman we’re talking about – the man whom, if rumours are to be believed, loves popping Little John out at every moment possible.
“Yes, he loves getting his cock out,” Gareth readily agrees. “There’s a scene where Jack is naked in a big quarry and the workmen who normally work there all brought down their kids because they thought it’d be fun to watch the show being filmed. It ended up with lots of horrified children taking photos of him stark bollock naked. It all went a bit wrong.”