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Aspirational middle-youth telly viewers make sci-fi Torchwood a record-breaker

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The stunning debut of sci-fi drama Torchwood pulled in more than two million viewers, a record on the fledgling but influential BBC3 channel. The Doctor Who spin-off clearly impressed viewers, with 2.4 million tuning in for the first episode, and 2.3 million watching the second episode which was screened immediately afterwards. The channel is seen as a great indicator for showcasing new talent, particularly after the success of comedy show Little Britain, and is likely to propel Welsh actress Eve Myles to household-name status. It also has a growing reputation for being popular with a fashionably young (middle-youth) on-the-ball audience.

Sunday night's opening was the highest homegrown non-sport programme ever shown on a digital channel, beating even David Walliams and Matt Lucas in Little Britain.

The ratings are believed to be second only to an episode of US series Friends, broadcast on Sky One in 2000, which attracted 2.8 million viewers.

Now Eve, who is already popular in her native Wales for drama series like Belonging, will become as popular as Doctor Who's Billie Piper, say TV critics.

'She's quite big in Wales but she will definitely become huge in the rest of the UK,' said Elaine Penn, features editor of TV Choice magazine.

'She's superb - a brilliant actress, stunning looking and definitely one to watch.'

Eve, who is from Ystradgynlais, impressed Doctor Who writer, Swansea's Russell T Davies, so much when she appeared in a one-off episode of the BBC Wales produced sci-fi show that he wrote Torchwood with her in mind.

In the new show - the title of which is an anagram of Doctor Who - she plays Gwen Cooper, a police officer who meets the Torchwood team at the scene of a brutal murder, sparking a burning curiosity to get to the truth.

In the opening episode, which will be screened on BBC2 tomorrow, viewers saw how Gwen secretly tried to get to the bottom of Torchwood by visiting its secret base hidden underneath Cardiff's Wales Millennium Centre.

John Barrowman stars as Captain Jack, who leads the team of alien hunters in modern-day Cardiff.

Ms Penn believes that those who are tuning into Torchwood are mostly long-running fans of Doctor Who and other sci-fi series.

But as it's more 'adult' than Doctor Who, she believes that it is attracting young professionals who are interested in more grown-up storylines.

'Doctor Who fans are bound to want to tune in anyway,' she said.

'They have already seen Captain Jack appear on Doctor Who, so they will want to know what happens to his character.

'Fans of Russell T Davies' writing will also be tuning in as there's been such a high calibre to everything he's done before.

'But I think Torchwood is also attracting a more adult audience, particularly young professionals in the 18 to 35 category.

'There's been plenty of hype and they will no doubt want to see the blood, gore, sex and aliens.

'The move to BBC2 is clearly a good sign.

'I think the original plan was to show it on analogue in the New Year but fans without digital cannot wait that long to see it,' added Ms Penn.

The BBC described the ratings as 'absolutely phenomenal'.

BBC3 controller Julian Bellamy said, 'I'm delighted that Sunday night's Torchwood was such a big hit.

'It's an incredible achievement to be the highest rated show ever on BBC3 and one of the most watched programmes on a digital channel.'

Eve, 28, said, 'I'm absolutely blown away at how popular it is, and obviously I'm over the moon to be a part of it.'

But she refuses to compare herself to Bille Piper, who played Doctor Who's sidekick Rose Tyler in the last two series. She said, 'I'm a huge fan of Billie. I think she's absolutely amazing - she's just fantastic.

'But mine is a very different character to Rose - they're pretty much like chalk and cheese. 'Gwen starts off as a police officer in Cardiff and then gets involved in the Torchwood team. 'She's a very down-to-earth girl, kind and generous, but extremely ambitious, intelligent and witty. 'But she's also very human, she's really the girl next door. 'Because I'm playing her, I put a lot of me into it and I take a lot of my own characteristics.': Watch this space...:She may not like the comparison, but is Eve Myles really the new Billie Piper? Eve Myles Character: Gwen Cooper in Torchwood Age: 28 From: Ystradgynlais Image: Smouldering brunette with attitude. Style: Glamorous - she favours long, sophisticated gowns on the red carpet. Love life: Has been dating Welsh actor Bradley Freegard for eight years - but still no sign of wedding bells. Most famous for: Torchwood. Yes, there may have only been two episodes so far but with all of the publicity, which has seen Eve's face plastered over posters and magazines, fans throughout the UK can't fail to recognise her. Back in her native Wales, she is well known for many other dramas too, including her role as feisty single mother Ceri in Belonging. Billie Piper Character: She played Rose in Doctor Who Age: 24 From: Swindon Image: Cute blonde with attitude. Style: Individual - she enjoys fashion but gives clothes her own element of edginess. Love life: Where have you been? She famously married media tycoon Chris Evans, 16 years her senior, weeks after appearing on his radio show. They may now be divorced but they appear to be the happiest exes on the planet. She's now dating law student Amadu Sowe. Most famous for: Until winning the part in Doctor Who, Billie was most famous for being a teen pop star and for globe-trotting with Evans. Today she's recognised everywhere for the role of Rose.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Price, Karen (2006-10-24). Aspirational middle-youth telly viewers make sci-fi Torchwood a record-breaker. The Western Mail p. 3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Price, Karen. "Aspirational middle-youth telly viewers make sci-fi Torchwood a record-breaker." The Western Mail [add city] 2006-10-24, 3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Price, Karen. "Aspirational middle-youth telly viewers make sci-fi Torchwood a record-breaker." The Western Mail, edition, sec., 2006-10-24
  • Turabian: Price, Karen. "Aspirational middle-youth telly viewers make sci-fi Torchwood a record-breaker." The Western Mail, 2006-10-24, section, 3 edition.
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