In June, HBO will bring Russell T. Davies’ BBC drama Years and Years to the United States. Davies is best known for being the first showrunner of the relaunched Doctor Who and as the creator of spinoff series Torchwood. It turns out the idea that became Years and Years was almost used as an ending for a Torchwood series.
The series in question is Torchwood: Children of Earth, the third series of the show, which aired in 2009. The series reveals that an alien species called the 456 came to Earth years ago with an ultimatum: turn over 10 percent of Earth’s children or all of humanity will be wiped out. When the 456 return to Earth to collect, Jack Harkness and the Torchwood team show up to defy them.
In the book Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale, Davies discusses how he had trouble coming up with an ending to this story. He reveals that he almost gave away what he considered to be one of his best ideas.
“We had bits of plot, but no story, no essence, no real reason for [Children of Earth] to exist. So, I took a deep breath and… well, I gave away one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. The point being, it wasn’t a Torchwood idea. It was a notion I’ve had in my head for about 20 years, and a series I’ve always been dying to write, and something I’d talked about at length with Nichola Shindler, and Phil Collinson, and Julie [Gardner, former Doctor Who producer], hoping that we could make it together one day. They loved it. They always said, ‘Let’s do it,’ ahead of any other idea I’ve ever had.
It was, essentially, a family drama, in which the world goes to hell, ending with our nice, safe, comfy western society descending into anarchy or a military state. Those nightmare regimes that we see in Africa, or Bosnia, or in history—but right here, on our doorsteps, with ordinary people like you and me, and our mums and dads, and our brothers and sisters, not just watching it, but part of it. Brilliant idea. And now I find myself using it up on Torchwood. I love Torchwood, but this was a good six hours of drama, maybe 12 hours, maybe three years of drama, that I’ve been planning for decades, condensed onto the ending of a sci-fi spin-off thriller.”
As some fans have noted, that sounds quite similar to the plot of Year and Years, which follows a British family for 15 years as the election of an inexperienced celebrity turned populist politician leads the United Kingdom towards totalitarianism. Someone, despite the idea between at least 10-30 years old, the idea seems even more relevant now then it would have then.
What do you think of Year and Years almost becoming a Torchwood ending? Let us know in the comments.