Adrift was the eleventh episode in the second series of Torchwood. It was an unusually Gwen-heavy plot that also featured a larger-than-normal role for PC Andy Davidson. For contemporary audiences, it would also have been notable for its use of Ruth Jones, a then-prominent Welsh actor.


When a local teenager disappears, Gwen is drawn into an investigation that reveals a darker side of Torchwood. Hundreds of people have disappeared without trace, but Jack is obstructing attempts to find them. The answer seems to lie in the rift -- literally -- and as Gwen follows the trail, she makes a shocking discovery.


Jonah Bevan is walking home across the Cardiff Bay Barrage when a bright light appears. Six seconds later he is gone. Seven months later, at the instigation of PC Andy Davidson, Gwen is investigating the disappearance of Jonah. Her research reveals there are more cases resembling Jonah's disappearance. Toshiko discovers that these disappearances happened during a negative spike of rift activity, which were previously discarded as aftershock. Gwen then compiles a list of all missing persons and informs Jack. However, Jack tells Gwen that nothing can be done and orders her to stop the investigation, which she refuses to do.

The investigation slowly turns into an obsession and takes a toll on the relationship between Gwen and Rhys. Returning to the Hub, Gwen interrupts Jack and Ianto during a sexual encounter and, after apologising, tells Jack that she wants to continue the investigation. Jack sternly refuses, but Ianto secretly gives Gwen a GPS device with coordinates to a hidden location, leading Gwen to a facility on Flat Holm. It harbours 17 of the missing people that the rift took and subsequently brought back, including Jonah, the boy she has been looking for. However, he has aged 40 years and is very deformed. Gwen also finds Jack there, and she demands access to Jonah. Jonah tells how he was stuck on a "burning planet" and how he was taken into a building that was actually a rescue craft, from which he witnessed the burning of a solar system. Afterwards, Jack reveals that he set up the facility when he first took command of Torchwood, in order to care for the victims of the rift, who had previously been locked away in the vaults.

Gwen brings Nikki, Jonah's mother, in to see him under the supervision of a facility staff member. At first she is horrified, believing it to be a cruel joke, but Jonah starts telling her things that only he would know. Nikki calms and they hug for a moment, but when Jonah tells the staff member with growing distress that he can feel "it" starting up, she urgently tells Nikki to get away from him. She resists and says that she can take care of him. However Jonah starts screaming, a scream so horrible that everyone flees. In a voiceover, Gwen reveals that the scream lasts for 20 hours every day because he looked into the heart of a Dark Star, which drove him insane.

A week later, Gwen goes to see Nikki, who implores her not to show the island to anyone else. She states that it would have been better for her to have remembered her son as he was, rather than to know of his true fate. Gwen takes down her notes over the missing. Nikki packs up Jonah's room and, knowing he can never return home, breaks down into sobs. At home that night, Gwen prepares a romantic candle-lit dinner for Rhys, who, realizing that she is shouldering a massive heartbreak, instead lets her cry into his chest.



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.


  • Positive rift emissions indicate the Cardiff rift depositing people, things, and objects in Cardiff, whilst a negative reading indicates the removal of such things.
  • People taken by the rift are sometimes returned. This has been happening more and more often recently, like the rift is trying to correct its mistakes.
  • Nikki Bevan lives at number 14, Cliffs Rise.

Story notes


  • 972,000 viewers


  • There is belief among fans that the burning planet that Jonah was saved from was Gallifrey, the man who pulled him from the flames was in fact, the Eighth Doctor and the destruction of the entire solar system was part of the Last Great Time War. As it was shown that Dalek Caan was able to break the time lock, but at the cost of his sanity, it seems possible that the Rift is able to bypass it also, affecting Jonah's sanity as well. The reason the Doctor wouldn't have saved the Time Lords was explained in DW: The End of Time, which also shows that some of the Time Lords were driven insane by the events. The climax of the 2009 specials further supports the theory in that it describes Gallifrey as going to burn in the war.

Filming locations

  • The Island seen in this episode is Flat Holm (Ynys Echni), 5 miles off the coast of Cardiff. Although the facility seen in Adrift is, of course, fictional, Flat Holm was for some years in fact the site of a similar "isolation hospital".
  • Llwyn Passat, Penarth Marina

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

  • This story, along with the rest of Torchwood Series 2, has been released in a complete series box set (on both DVD and Blu Ray). It is on the same disc as Fragments and Exit Wounds.

External links


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