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Children of Earth: Day Four was the fourth episode of Series 3 of Torchwood. It was written by John Fay, directed by Euros Lyn and featured John Barrowman as Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Kai Owen as Rhys Williams and Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones.

Narratively, it was most notable for revealing the true threat of the 456 and for killing off Ianto Jones. While the choice to kill Ianto was the subject of much praise,[1] some fans were emotionally scarred by his passing. Proof of their resistance to the death was soon evidenced in Cardiff Bay, where a shrine to Ianto was erected by fans, almost immediately after the 2009 transmission.[2] The shrine persisted for several years and was, as of 2012, simply a feature of Mermaid Quay in Cardiff.[3] Eventually, the shrine was elevated to a permanent attraction in Wales.[4] Additionally, a number of "Save Ianto" websites and forum threads sprung up in the wake of this episode's transmission.[5][6]

Away from the controversy over Ianto's death, the episode was a milestone in the career of long-term DWU contributor, Nicholas Briggs. Though his vocal talents had long been used by BBC Wales and Big Finish, and despite having starred in number of direct-to-video productions made by BBV Productions, this was the first time he had actually been seen in-camera, on BBC One, in a DWU production.

Day Four was the most successful single episode of Torchwood, scoring the programme's highest ratings on every front: greatest final audience (6.8 million), highest weekly ranking (11th), and largest AI (91%). Indeed, its AI has only been equalled by Doctor Who's The Stolen Earth and Journey's End but has never been surpassed, as of January 2019.


Torchwood finally learns of the events of 1965. Britain is in danger of becoming a rogue state and everything pivots around John Frobisher as the ambassador of the 456 destroys its old allegiances.


Jack recalls the events of 1965. The aliens had offered a cure for a deadly new flu strain that will soon arise, and, in return, wanted twelve children. Jack's partner (a woman) claims that the aliens say the children will live forever and he was asked for because he can't die and doesn't care.

Clem escapes abduction. Jack is in charge of handing over the children. It turns out that Clem wasn't taken because the 456 disappeared first. Jack had not known Clem had escaped. The 456 do not seem to care when they hand over the information for the cure...

Back in the present, Clem steals Gwen's gun and shoots Jack. Gwen retrieves her gun, Jack wakes up and Clem runs off in a panic. Gwen calms him down. They wonder why Clem wasn't taken; perhaps he was on the verge of puberty and so not wanted by the 456.

At Johnson's facility, Alice and Steven are imprisoned and Alice warns Johnson about angering Jack.

Back at the Home Office, Frobisher asks what would happen to the children, and the "456" by responding that a "remnant" is watching — Clem realises the 456 is talking about him — and then says it is off the record. It invites Frobisher in with a camera.

A cameraman enters. A 456 appears in profile. Dekker says he detects three heartbeats and three distinct types of life in there. A child, one identified as one taken in the 1960s, who has not aged, is hooked up to something. The child's eyes widen in shock, possibly at seeing another human for the first time since the 1960s.

The cameraman leaves. A recording of Frobisher's voice announces this is off the record. The 456 says they do not harm the children and they feel no pain. If humanity refuse to hand over the children, they will wipe out the human species. The Americans demand all the records of 1965 from the Brian Green and threaten him with UN sanctions for withholding the information.

Jack and Ianto argue about Jack's role in the swap of children. Jack calls Frobisher to confirm the 456 have returned. Jack insists the 456's return is proof that they cannot be trusted. Frobisher says he has Jack's daughter and grandson but they will not be harmed if Jack does not reveal Britain's dealings with the 456. Jack insists he needs to confront the 456.

Lois attends a COBRA meeting. The PM says they will try to haggle, but they can't take military action. There isn't anything to target. The PM and Frobisher talk about camouflaged targets but no more. Bridget looks at Lois with suspicion. The PM tells Frobisher to offer "sixty units" and no more.

Back at the 456 "embassy," Frobisher offers the 456 one child per million people on Earth. The 456 refuse. Around the world, children begin to chant a number. It is a tenth of all the children in the world.

Back at Johnson's facility, she is being kept in the dark. She decides to go into London, but keeps her team on the lookout for Jack.

At the COBRA meeting, a discussion ensues over how to select the tenth and how best to present it to the public. At first a random lottery is suggested, since the government could protect itself from the resulting aftermath. However, one of the Cabinet members, Denise Riley, does not agree with the idea, as it would put her own children at danger of being selected. Yates suggests an alphabetical draw, which Riley scorns. Eventually Green declares that the children and grandchildren of everyone at the table will be exempt from possible selection but refuses to widen the scope to include nieces and nephews, much to the disgust of Denise. Denise won't accept this, and suggests that the criteria for selection should be the school league tables since the higher schools will be producing graduates who will contribute to society while the failing schools will be producing people who are "drains on society". She further suggests that the children doomed to spend their lives on benefits, and in prisons, should be handed over. This proposal is accepted and given to Frobisher.

The Torchwood team decide Lois's footage gives them leverage to blackmail the Cabinet. They force their way into Thames House. Ianto phones his sister to warn her, knowing that the line is tapped. He sends a message to those listening — to protect their children — and makes a quick call to Gwen, providing Johnson with information of Torchwood's location.

Frobisher begins to plan how children will be gathered and notes that the government can promise an "inoculation" to prevent children from chanting messages in unison. He suggests it be reported that the false vaccination "went wrong," allowing the government to put the blame on the 456 for the loss of the children.

Johnson arrives at the warehouse, but Gwen was expecting them and shows them what they were recording. Rhys has gone into hiding, with the footage from the COBRA meetings in Thames House, and is ready to send out the footage to the public if anything goes wrong.

Jack and Ianto enter Thames House. Jack talks to the 456, who will not yield on their request for ten percent of the world's children. Jack says he is making it a war. The 456 say, "A virus has been released. It will kill everyone in the building." Jack runs out of the room and warns two guards of the virus, but the 456 locks Thames House down, restricting anyone within the building to escape. Meanwhile, Ianto orders the 456 to release an anti-virus or he'll blow a hole in their tank. Jack returns and tries to negotiate, but the alien refuses. Ianto and Jack shoot at the 456 chamber, but the bullets bounce off. The 456 start to shriek. Clement screams in agony and starts to bleed. The 456 say the Remnant will be disconnected and Clement dies in Gwen's arms. Jack says he will get Ianto out, aware that he can survive anything but Ianto can't. Ianto tells him it is too late: he's breathed in the virus. Within seconds, Ianto collapses from toxic exposure and Jack catches him in his arms.

Jack kisses Ianto one last time.

Everyone in Thames house is collapsing and dying, save Dekker, who dons an environmental suit in time, and Jack, who can't die. The people in Thames House scream for help, but begin to collapse, and everyone eventually dies. Ianto sobs quietly as his strength fades. He tells Jack that he loves him, slipping away. Jack starts crying as he begs Ianto to stay with him. Ianto wakes and whispers that "it [their relationship] was good while it lasted." Jack agrees. Ianto gives Jack a dying request: "Don't forget me." Jack answers, "Never could." Ianto's last words are, "A thousand years' time...you won't remember me." However, Jack denounces them; "Yes I will. I promise, I will." Ianto gasps one final time and dies in his arms, Jack hopelessly pleading for his lover not to leave him. The 456 tell Jack that "you will die, and tomorrow, your people will deliver the children". Jack grimaces at the 456, and kisses Ianto and succumbs to the virus himself. The Gold Command room is left with no choice but to enact the plan to deliver 35 million children to the 456 or face annihilation. Denise Riley believes that "an injury to one is not an injury to all", and believes that they have to surrender to the 456. The Cabinet decide to go ahead and deliver the children.

At Thames House, a room has been filled with dozens of body bags, all victims of the virus attack, which has been cleansed from the building. Gwen walks into the room of the dead with support troops. One man points out Jack's and Ianto's bodies and she walks towards them. Gwen calmly removes the sheet over Jack and smiles faintly. He will revive and all will be well. However, she glances to the right and her expression darkens, knowing Ianto is underneath the sheet... who won't be coming back. She lifts the sheet off his face and sees that Ianto is pale and lifeless, fixing his crooked tie. The sight breaks her heart and she begins to cry. Jack wakes up and comforts her, equally as torn apart by the death of his partner. Defeated, Gwen, with Jack hugging her, tearfully says, "There is nothing we can do."



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.


Story notes[]


  • 6.24 million BBC One viewers, according to unofficial overnight figures
  • 6.76 million viewers, according to final official BARB viewing figures[7]
  • AI of 88%
  • 11th most-watched programme in Britain during the week of transmission

Filming locations[]

  • Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay - Johnson's team attempt to track down Torchwood
  • No. 13 Rupert Brooke Drive, Newport - Ianto's sister's
  • Thames House, Millbank, London - Thames House
  • MOD Caerwent, Monmouthshire - Ashton Down
  • Cathys Park 2, Cardiff - MI5 headquarters foyer
  • No. 41 Cefn Coed Road, Cardiff - The Frobisher residence
  • Avesta Polarit Steelworks, Newport - Torchwood London warehouse
  • National Park Vistitor Centre, Brecon - Jack revealed his involvement in 1965
  • Coedarhydglyn, St. Nicholas, Cardiff - Prime Minister's office
  • City Hall Road, Cardiff
  • West Brute Street, Cardiff - Jack and Ianto hit a traffic jam on the way to Thames House
  • Ship Lane, Cardiff - Jack and Ianto head to Thames House
  • Abington Street, London - Frobisher heads back to MI5
  • Chelsea Bridge, London - Johnson's convoy on its way to Torchwood
  • Dumballs Road, Cardiff - Johnson tracks down Torchwood
  • Tresillian Terrace, Caardiff - Johnson tracks down Torchwood
  • Queens Circus, Battersea, London - Johnson's convoy on its way to Torchwood
  • Brangwyn Hall, Swansea - MI5 Thirteenth floor
  • Western Lesuire Centre, Cardiff - Gwen finds Jack and Ianto amongst the bodies
  • Ponton Road (aerial), London - The Torchwood 1 holding area
  • BBC Broadcasting House (Lift shafts), Llandaff, Cardiff - Elevator shafts in Thames House

Production errors[]

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.
  • Clem is visibly still breathing after the 456 killed him.


Home video releases[]

  • Children of Earth: Day Four was released on DVD along with the rest of Children of Earth on 13 July 2009.
  • It was also released in the Series 1-4 boxset (Region 2 release: 14 November 2011.)