Torchwood, Ianto and fandom’s big heart

Spoiler warning: Don’t read further if you have not yet seen episode 4 of Torchwood: Children of Earth. Of course, if you want to watch it, chances are you already have, but still…

Fans of any persuasion can be an odd bunch. I know, I am that person. There are so many huge benefits to be had from bonding with other people over your love of something, whether it’s football (a passion I must admit I don’t share) or **Doctor Who** (which I do).

I get it. And I’ve come into contact with the best of fandom in recent years. From reviewing the BBC’s **Any Dream Will Do** every week, I came into contact with many subgroups: fans of Daniel Boys (his ‘[kittens](http://www.danielskittens.co.uk/)’), who took my good-natured comments [about them being “quite mad”](http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/tvtoday/2007/06/any-dream-will-do-week-11-the-final/) in the spirit it was intended. And of course there are the Loppies — fans of that series’ eventual winner, Lee Mead, who started talking to each other in the comments section of our blog and have stayed with us ever since.

There are negative associations, of course. If you incur the wrath of the hardcore supporter, then you know about it sharpish. On [TV Today](http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/tvtoday/) we’ve been on the receiving end from fans of Rupert Grint and Jonas Armstrong. In neither case were the attacks particularly justified, but there comes a point where, to the hardcore fans, that hardly matters.

Something similar happened over the last few weeks, following **Torchwood: Children of Earth**’s fourth episode, in which regular character Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) came to a sticky end. A lot of anger was directed at Torchwood writer James Moran, on [his blog](http://jamesmoran.blogspot.com) and on Twitter, not because he wrote the episode (he didn’t) but because he had an open door policy with his web communications.

Thankfully, that particular method of attacking individuals died down pretty quickly, although it has led to James [taking a step back from his blog](http://jamesmoran.blogspot.com/2009/07/stepping-back.html) — and please read that link, it expresses his feelings and reasons far better than I could.

But the hardcore Ianto fans are not giving up. They have set up a website, [SaveIantoJones.com](http://www.SaveIantoJones.com), in order to coordinate various forms of peaceful, polite protest.

And one way they’ve decided to show their support for their favourite character is unusual — by raising money for the BBC’s resident charity, [Children in Need](http://www.saveiantojones.com/children-in-need.php). As I write, the total they have raised to date is just under £3,000. And that’s an impressive amount of money whatever the reason for its collection.

Again, it shows that within fandom, there is the potential for much goodness. Although I do believe that the organisers are mistaken when they say:

> While the BBC have remained polite and well-mannered, in response to a very peaceful campaign, Mr. Davies has made it clear in recent interviews that he views his fans with contempt, and as disposable, which saddens us.

I don’t think anybody could be more wrong; I truly believe Russell gets it. Watch [Love & Monsters](http://matthewman.net/2006/06/18/love-monsters-mister-blue-sky-thinking/), part of Series 2 of **Doctor Who** written by Russell T Davies, and you’ll see a group called L.I.N.D.A., a group of people who start meeting for one reason and gradually become people who meet up because they are friends. It’s one of the most perfect representations of fandom you’re ever likely to see. And anybody who writes like that really, truly, does not consider fans to be worthy of contempt. That doesn’t mean that fans are bigger than the subject of their support, though.

The SaveIantoJones fans are doing some great work and their fundraising efforts will do enormous good — even though their ultimate aim, of bringing a dead fictional character back to life, is doomed to fail. If their work brings them together as friends too, then that will be a further upside.

The Torchwood experience

It’s been a busy week over at TV Today, where we’ve been running a series of features around Torchwood: Children of Earth, which begins a five-episode run on Monday and continues throughout the week. The stripped scheduling is a tactic BBC1 has been using in increasing amounts, to create a buzz, or “event television”.

And so, we responded with “event blogging” – and for us at least, it seems to have worked.
Continue reading “The Torchwood experience”