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A Day in the Death was the eighth episode of Series 2 of Torchwood. It was written by Joseph Lidster and directed by Andy Goddard. It was the conclusion to a loose trilogy that featured Martha Jones as a guest character and was linked by Owen dealing with his death and resurrection from the previous two episodes.


Owen chats with a suicidal woman on a rooftop, reflecting on his adjustment (or lack thereof) to his new life (or lack thereof). Will a mission with Torchwood assist in his salvation or bring about the end of the world?


Owen Harper sits on a rooftop ledge, talking to a woman who is on the verge of committing suicide, whose name is later revealed as Maggie Hopley. He tells her about his recent ordeal with being dead and resurrected.

As his memories begin, we see Jack let him off, but he has to stay at the Hub so that Martha can run some tests on him. Martha has been assigned the position of Torchwood Three medical doctor. As he talks to her, he cuts his hand on a scalpel. Martha has to stitch it back together, saying that it will have to be stitched every week because of his inability to heal. The team has a meeting about a man they've been keeping an eye on named Henry Parker, who hasn't left his house since the 1980s.

Later that day Owen is in his flat, where he decides to get rid of some things (food, shaving foam, etc.) since he no longer needs them. After he has finished clearing up, Tosh comes round and begins talking to him. He does not really listen. After a few minutes Owen demands to know why Tosh has come and why she is still in love with him when he has nothing to give her. He yells at Toshiko that he is broken and breaks one of his fingers to prove it. Leaving Toshiko distraught and alone in his flat he runs outside and then to the Cardiff canal, where he jumps in and spends thirty-six minutes under water before giving up trying to drown himself. After realising he has no breath and returning to the surface, he finds Jack watching.

The Torchwood team has another briefing and decide they want to obtain the alien device that Henry Parker has. Owen agrees to go get it, using his dead state to pass heat sensors and multiple guards. Owen comes to a room where there is a bed hidden by veils, in which Henry is lying. He tells Owen that he needs the device to live; Owen tells him that the device has no life-sustaining properties. Henry and Owen have a conversation about the nature of life and death, which convinces Henry to give up the machine. Almost immediately, he goes into cardiac arrest; Owen attempts to perform CPR on him, but has no breath since he's dead, and Henry Parker dies. Later, the Torchwood team bid farewell to Martha as she leaves to return to UNIT.

Later that night, Owen sees Maggie on the top of a building, and goes up to the roof to talk to her, completing the flashback that started the episode. Owen finishes his story to Maggie. He talks her out of suicide by revealing that the Pulse is more than just a random artefact — it is a reply to humanity's search for extraterrestrial life, proof that they are not alone.



General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics


General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.




  • TARDIS coral can be seen growing next to Jack's desk lamp while he is speaking to Owen about letting him go from the Torchwood Institute.


  • Owen listens to an iPod while cleaning his flat.

Story notes[]

  • This episode aired immediately after the BBC Two repeat of Dead Man Walking at 9:50pm on BBC Three; and was repeated on BBC Two in its usual 9:00pm timeslot the next week, on Wednesday 5 March 2008.
  • A family friendly pre-watershed edit of this episode aired at 7:00pm, the following day, Thursday 6 March 2008 on BBC Two.
  • In the sequence of Owen's life, clips from TV: Everything Changes, Ghost Machine, Out of Time, Meat and Reset are seen.
  • Kai Owen is credited despite Rhys Williams not appearing in this episode.
  • In the scene in which Owen asks Jack what he can do when he goes home, the computer behind Jack shows the Dalek weapon from TV: Evolution of the Daleks.
  • From this episode on, Owen always has a bandage over his left hand because he cut his palm and broke a finger, and his body can no longer generate new cells to heal wounds, making any damage sustained permanent.
  • A deleted scene reveals Henry Parker and Owen's conversation was meant to be much longer, but was edited for time and controversial content. During the extended scene, Henry voices his dismissive thoughts about Christianity after deciding there was nothing to look forward to in the afterlife, and discusses pleasant memories of his late wife that have kept him going while he was still alive.
  • The rooftop scene between Owen and Maggie was derived from a similar rooftop scene in Lidster's previous story idea, Checkout. Though in this earlier idea, the story was centred around Ianto - and thus, the scene was between Ianto and Maggie.[1]


  • 3.1 million BBC Two viewers, with an AI of 88%
  • 1.2 million BBC Three viewers
  • 4.26 million viewers - final BARB ratings[2]

Filming locations[]

to be added

Production errors[]

to be added


If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

DVD releases[]

  • A Day in the Death, along with the rest of series 2, was released in a complete series box set in 2008.
  • It was also released in the Series 1-4 boxset (Region 2 release: 14 November 2011.)


External links[]