When she was young, Lizbeth enjoyed riding horses. Her first horse was Glynarthen, who was injured when she took a tumble during a steeplechase. Whilst her mother argued with the judges that she at least deserved a rosette for effort, she cradled Glynarthen's neck whilst the vet shot him. Although she wanted to look at him when he died, the sound of the gun made her close her eyes. (AUDIO: Parasite)
Lizbeth once owned a red setter who understood nearly every word she said to him. She implied that she had once had sex with a man but did not enjoy it. (AUDIO: Ashenden) As an adult, she was open about her homosexuality. (AUDIO: Parasite, etc.)
Lizbeth became affiliated with Somerville College at the University of Oxford and became a fellow there. By the 1940s, she was working at Torchwood One and had risen to become Head of Research, building the Torchwood One Research Unit from the ground up and filling it with the finest minds in the British Empire. (AUDIO: Parasite) At some point in her career, she went to 10 Downing Street and also became acquainted with Major Stevenson. (AUDIO: Ashenden)
World War II
During World War II, Lizbeth was tasked with pretending to run a farm whilst actually hiding a cache of extraterrestrial weapons in Wookey Hole Caves, assisted by land girls billeted near G.I.s. The girls often had sex with the soldiers and became pregnant, resulting in Lizbeth spending many a night at the cottage hospital as they gave birth. She was impressed at how they would still be digging up turnips whilst in their eighth month. (AUDIO: Parasite)
In the early 1940s, Lizbeth showed kindness to Officer Jill Anderson, who was accused by the other women of being promiscuous and of having had an abortion, and arranged for her to be sent to catalogue artwork hidden in a coal mine near Blaenau Ffestiniog. Jill initially thought that Lizbeth was disciplining her before realising that she was being nice. (AUDIO: Curios)
In 1945, Lizbeth and Reginald Rigsby travelled to Berlin on Winston Churchill's orders to meet the director, complete Project Hermod's inventory and establish which assets the Crown had claim to. However, Rigsby claimed that he felt too ill to return there and so Lizbeth went on her own. She met Gerta and saw that the Germans had infected children with an alien fungus, disgusting her and leading her to burn the place down.
Lizbeth and Rigsby continued to co-operate as Head of Research and Head of Alien Acquisitions in the years following World War II. When Rogers and Clyde came close to a scientific breakthrough, Rigsby reallocated her team across Torchwood so that he could take credit for their achievement instead of her. She was greatly angered and told him that she would continue her work with a science kit from a toyshop if necessary.
In 1951, Lizbeth tethered the Skylon as Torchwood's contribution to the Festival of Britain, the craft being useless to them without a compatible power source. While doing so, she met Norton Folgate and ordered him around, guessing that he was one of Rigsby's "bright boys" and, from his posture, that he was the son of a pastor.
Lizbeth was charged with dealing with the Wire's faceless victims in June 1953, rounding them up and caging them in a warehouse whilst the Vicar, Rigsby and Norton attended Queen Elizabeth II's coronation at Westminster Abbey. She was angered by their absence and felt that she was herself a faceless nobody. (AUDIO: Parasite)
Work with Norton
Shortly after the death of the Vicar, Lizbeth was visited at Room 13 by Norton, whom she initially believed had become the new director and was there to shut her down. She was amused to learn that he had, in fact, been sent there by Rigsby to join her in her work. The two became friends and, when Norton made it clear that he was bored working there, she allowed him to hunt Nazis and acquire their money for Room 13.
Lizbeth was once certain that a suspicious shipment contained alien technology, but it transpired that it actually contained stockings, an incident which Norton would not let her forget. (AUDIO: Parasite)
Upon learning that Sidney Ornadel and Isla Satterthwaite had contacted aliens at Ashenden, Lizbeth was furious but encouraged them to continue so that they might learn what the aliens wanted, attempting to have the War Office take over so that Rigsby could not shut the operation down. However, the Department of New Towns took over instead and Lizbeth swore to shut down their implementation of the Ashenden Formula, although nobody would listen to her or Miss Satterthwaite. (AUDIO: Ashenden)
Lizbeth and Norton were victims of Adam's memory manipulation, which he used to ingratiate himself with them, depose Rigsby and attempt to cause an interstellar war with the Kernaz. Lizbeth and Norton realised that something was wrong but their investigations were continually set back by Adam editing their memories. On the day of war, the two of them deactivated Torchwood's weapons and exposed Adam, handing him over to the Kernaz who banished him to the Void for the destruction of their homeworld. (AUDIO: Madam, I'm)
Lizbeth was brought forward in time to a time after her death by Norton to serve as one half of a time cone converter to defeat the space eels, the other half being Andy Davidson. She met Andy in Pimlico and, after being told by Gideon Lyme and the Torchwood Emergency Continuity Board that Norton was a rogue agent, the pair were detained in Pinkerton's Lodging Rooms until their escape. After visiting Ashenden, she confronted the Continuity Board, attempted to enlist the help of the Prime Minister and, upon returning to Ashenden, defeated the eels as Norton planned. (AUDIO: Ashenden)
Investigating suspicious packages, Lizbeth and Norton found that they had Project Hermod's insignia hidden on them. They arranged for one such package to be delivered to 58 Landsmeer Terrace rather than 53 Landsmeer Terrace as intended, but Lizbeth then ensured that it would first arrive at Torchwood so that she could claim credit for it and potentially take over from Rigsby. Despite Norton's warnings, she opened the package when it arrived and was infected with the spores of an alien mushroom. (AUDIO: Parasite)
Whilst Norton was rescued by Andy Davidson using a vortex manipulator, Lizbeth was, despite asking for help, helped to Torchwood One's bunker by a woman. Once inside, the woman began to cough just as Lizbeth had when first infected by the spores. Soon enough, all of Torchwood were dying and Lizbeth sat with Rigsby, confessing that she was to blame and finding that he had never forgiven her for Project Hermod.
Once everybody else was dead, Lizbeth left the bunker and returned to Torchwood to die. She met Norton, dressed in asbestos overalls, and told him that she felt sorry for him because he was all that remained of Torchwood. He told her that he would feed her dog and she asked him to stay with her as she died just as she had wanted to with Glynarthen when she was young. He did so. (AUDIO: Parasite)
Lizbeth was an intelligent woman and, according to Norton, one of the finest minds at Torchwood. She believed that she was unpopular in the organisation and decided to endure her punishment at Room 13 long enough to get a pension and a cottage in Hebden Bridge. A lesbian with a habit of seducing Wrens, she hoped to settle down with "a bitter old bull dyke called Marjorie" and argue with her in their old age (AUDIO: Parasite) and to own a tea shop which sold bad buns and worse art.
She had a dry sense of humour which she claimed was "mostly" the reason that she never married. (AUDIO: Ashenden) She had a habit of falling asleep in cars and was a heavy sleeper, managing to sleep through gunfire, a tank and a lynching. She spoke some German and did not smoke until her visit to Project Hermod, after which she took to smoking a pipe. (AUDIO: Parasite) She did not care for James Bond, calling him a "brutal idiot" and being surprised that films would be made about him. (AUDIO: Ashenden)
She enjoyed crumpets, bacon rolls, cocoa, (AUDIO: Parasite) custard tarts, (AUDIO: Madam, I'm) tea with milk and two sugars (AUDIO: Ashenden) and coffee, although she did not like it made with chicory. (AUDIO: Parasite) She told Norton that, without coffee, she could not be nice. (AUDIO: Madam, I'm)
Rigsby told Lizbeth that she was a "tough old bird" and that she was talented and clever but not especially smart. He saw her as an incubator, taking people in and improving them so that he could take them from her. She was greatly admired at Torchwood and her team members never wanted to leave her. (AUDIO: Parasite) Norton described her as "Lady Bracknell's bull dyke daughter" (AUDIO: Madam, I'm) and Andy told her that he did not think that she was very nice. (AUDIO: Ashenden)
Lizbeth arrived at work in a hat and coat. When Norton told her that she had one of the finest minds at Torchwood, he added that it was in "one of the most ugly bodies", (AUDIO: Parasite) later saying that she had not been little since the Dardanelles. (AUDIO: Ashenden) He claimed that she had once been mistaken for Sid James. (AUDIO: Madam, I'm)
Behind the scenes
- Dervla Kirwan said that the stage directions described Lizbeth as having a moustache, making it a role that she would never get on television. (BFX: Parasite)
- It was Scott Handcock's suggestion to bring Lizbeth back for Madam, I'm following the character's death in her first story, having enjoyed working with Kirwan. (BFX: Madam, I'm)