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The devastating events of Russell T Davies drama Years and Years were based on an idea first used in Torchwood

The writer used plotlines from BBC1's dystopian drama in the Doctor Who spin-off 10 years ago

Published: Wednesday, 5th June 2019 at 12:39 pm

**Warning: spoilers for Years and Years episode four follow**

It might be missing Weevils, the rift and Captain Jack, but have you noticed some striking similarities between BBC1’s dystopian drama Years and Years and Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood?


You should do: turns out that Russell T Davies, the writer behind both shows, actually incorporated the plot of Years and Years into the Torchwood mini-series Children of Earth back in 2009.

An Eagle-eyed fan noticed that when discussing the ending of the Torchwood series in 2010 book The Writer’s Tale, Davies says he used aspects of another drama he was developing – one that sounds very familiar.

He wrote: “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[…] 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."

Ten years after the events of Children of Earth, it looks like this idea was finally brought to screen again in Years and Years.

The finale of the Torchwood series follows Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and her family running through a devastated Britain, attempting to avoid UK soldiers ordered to collect children to be sacrificed to alien forces.

Years and Years also sees a family experiencing the pressures of an increasingly extremist government – thanks to politician Vivienne Rook (Emma Thompson) – and people right 'on our doorstep' being treated like the refugees we see on the news today.

Meanwhile, a more lightweight reminder of how writers often store away ideas for long periods of time also popped up in the same episode of Years and Years.

In The Writer’s Tale, Davies offers a throwaway (if brilliantly funny) character description – “the sort of man who’s happy if he finds a big crisp” – that found its way into Years and Years.

Spooky indeed.

So, should we be looking for other clues from RTD's writing to tell us where Years and Years could be going next? Will the UK soon be put under military control like in Torchwood? Or will Jack Harkness turn up to save the country from Vivienne Rook? We’ve got our fingers crossed.


Years and Years continues on BBC1 at 9pm on Tuesdays


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