Torchwood (3 stars)

BBC3, Sun 22 Oct, 9pm; BBC2, Wed 25 Oct, 9pm


It could all have been such a disaster. Revamping an old TV series tends to end in calamity and/or tedium (Randall and Hopkirk, The Basil Brush Show, The Price is Right for just three) but the all-new Doctor Who has defied nature and become a blazing success, even fighting off the concerns of Eccleston and Tennant with their ‘don’t typecast me’ worries. So much so that it even has the balls to kickstart its own spin-off, focussing on Captain Jack Harkness, companion of the Ninth Doctor and the charming cad who helps run the Torchwood Institute, the anti-alien research centre founded by Queen Victoria.

Promising a more adult approach to the Timelord’s adventures, this gets the post-watershed slot and justifies it by having a few fs and bs and an alien dressed in leathers biting chunks out of security guards’ necks. Oh, and a bit of suicide. The opener is genuinely tense and unsurprisingly pacy but sticks rigidly to the revamped Doctor Who template. Our dashing, mysterious hero lures in a new female assistant who is both savvy and sexy (a Cardiff cop called Gwen Cooper) with a little bit of scepticism thrown into her inquisitive mix. Torchwood promises the same but more; more blood, more sex and more scary monsters and super creeps. After all, that’s surely the kind of thing a time-travelling alien-accoster would have to cope with day in, day out.

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