The Radio Times logo

Torchwood's best references to Doctor Who

From Vote Saxon posters to Cyberwomen, we've collected together some classic references for your approval...

Torchwood cast
Published: Thursday, 12th February 2015 at 12:00 pm

Before it became a show in its own right, before even Nu Who aired in 2005, Torchwood was a reference to Doctor Who; with the word being an anagram of its title, and a codename for the show used during Doctor Who's production.


It's hardly any surprise then that when Torchwood did actually become a fully-formed adult spin-off from Doctor Who in 2006, the show carried a fair fews references over from its source material. So, naturally, have collected together some of the best of these references - from the on-the-nose obvious to those buried in the background for only the most eagle-eyed to spot. References like…

"Vote Saxon" (Captain Jack Harkness) 

Yep, while the Doctor and Martha Jones were off gallivanting around time and space in Doctor Who series three, Torchwood was stuck on Earth, unaware that they were living through the election campaign of the Master, AKA Harold Saxon.

"Bad Wolf" (Captain Jack Harkness) 

And that's not the only remnant of the Doctor Who universe hanging around the walls. It seems that Rose's pesky Bad Wolf graffiti (just to the left of Jack) still hasn't been cleaned up, which surely warrants a complaint to the local council.

Fitting into Doctor Who canon (Various episodes)

A lot of Torchwood actually pivots around Doctor Who series three's last three episodes, Utopia, The Sound of Drums and The Last of the Time Lords - the events which bridge the gap between Torchwood series one and two.

For example, at the end of Torchwood series one, The End of Days, Jack hears the sound of the Tardis and runs off, finishing the series. That joins into Utopia, which begins with Jack running to the Tardis and clinging on through the time vortex.

This then kicks off the events that would see the Master take control of Earth, and hold Jack prisoner for a year. Seeing as that year is eventually reset, it's unclear how long Jack is away from the Torchwood team, but his return at the beginning of series two does come as a shock, leading to him explaining that he found the Doctor.

A few episodes later this leads to one of the biggest crossovers between Torchwood and Doctor Who: the Doctor's series three companion, Martha Jones, who joins the Torchwood team as an advisor from UNIT.

When Martha joins the show, she and Jack refer to themselves as being in the "end of the world survivors club" - a reference to The Sound of Drums / The Last of the Time Lords - and Martha says that she was recommended to UNIT by none other than the Doctor himself.

The Doctor's hand (various episodes)

Again, this fits into Doctor Who canon pretty well, with Jack having retrieved the Doctor's hand - as you do - after the fight with the Sycorax in The Christmas Invasion, and eventually giving it to the Doctor himself in Utopia. In the meantime, it's seen in the background several times throughout the show.

Naoko Mori (Exit Wounds)

Just like Eve Myles, Naoko Mori has also appeared in Doctor Who and Torchwood; respectively as Doctor Sato in Aliens of London, and then later as Toshiko Sato - the same character - in series one of Torchwood. This was finally referenced in Exit Wounds, in which Tosh, dying, reminisces with Owen about their early days. She describes pretending to be a medic in Owen's second week, to cover for him having a hangover, to which Owen asks if this was "the space pig" incident.

The, er, Cyberwoman (Cyberwoman)

Again, this is a big one, but it's well worth a mention, as Cyberwoman carries on the story from series two finale Army of Ghosts / Doomsday. In the episode, it's revealed that Lanto has been secretly housing his girlfriend Lisa, a half-converted Cyberman who conventionally happens to be revealing as much flesh as possible, in the basement of the Torchwood Hub. It is, as you can see, utterly naff.

Hoix (Exit Wounds)

Remember this guy from Doctor Who episode Love and Monsters? Well, he shows up again in Torchwood episode Exit Wounds, with him terrorising a hospital.

The Impossible Reference (End of Days)


Another nifty reference to a Doctor Who monster occurs in End of Days, where the Torchwood team must fight the son of "the Great Beast" Abaddon: an apparent relation to the Devil last seen in series two two-parter The Impossible Planet / The Beast Below.


Sponsored content