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You may be looking for the animal flesh eaten by humans.

Meat was the fourth episode of Series 2 of Torchwood. It was written by Catherine Tregenna and directed by Colin Teague. It featured John Barrowman as Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Burn Gorman as Owen Harper, Naoko Mori as Toshiko Sato and Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones.

This episode saw Rhys Williams learn the truth about Torchwood and aliens. From a production point of view, it marked a turning point where Rhys started to take a more prominent role in the series, which would be continued in the next two series.


Gwen is forced to reveal Torchwood's true nature to Rhys after he follows her to work and accidentally uncovers the truth behind the mysterious alien meat. Is there a price to pay for Gwen, Rhys or Torchwood?


Rhys Williams is driving. One of his work colleagues phones him to say one of their firm's lorries has crashed on the motorway. When he arrives at the crash site, he is told that the driver died in the crash. Rhys gives a police officer the driver's details and is informed that, before he can move the lorry, Torchwood want to look at it. When they arrive, Rhys spots Gwen.

The Torchwood team search the lorry. They find meat in the back and confiscate all of it. They will take a sample back to the Hub. Gwen recognises the lorry as one from Rhys' firm. They head back to the Hub and Rhys tries to follow them, but is turned away by the police.

Back at the Hub, Owen notices the symbol saying the meat is fit for human consumption is fake. Gwen tries to dismiss any thought of Rhys being involved with the meat. Toshiko rings Rhys' office for information, pretending to be the police. Rhys informs them that the meat comes from Harries & Harries. Moments later, Owen says the meat is alien. The team realise it must have been in different food products for months. As they discuss the location of Harries & Harries, Gwen receives a text from Rhys, asking her to come home.

When Gwen arrives at her flat, Rhys explains about the accident and the meat in the back on the van to see if she breaks. When it fails, Gwen goes back to work.

Rhys follows her. He sees Gwen with Jack near the invisible lift in Roald Dahl Plass. He follows her to the factory where he is captured and taken inside. Jack and Gwen see this and think that he is involved.

Rhys is taken inside and is questioned. He explains about Leighton and lies about the meat being taken away, claiming it had been incinerated. He asks to pick up from where Leighton left off. They have captured a living alien, the source of the meat. It grows even as they cut chunks of its living flesh.

Back at their flat, Rhys and Gwen argue over her presence at the crash and the factory. Gwen admits to the nature of her work for Torchwood. Rhys remains incredulous and asks her to prove it.

Rhys sees hub

Rhys marvels at Gwen's workplace.

In the Hub, the team await Gwen and Rhys's arrival. Gwen takes Rhys to the lift. As they descend, Rhys is amazed, but still passes off Myfanwy as being extinct. He is introduced to Jack, Owen, Toshiko and Ianto and is told about what Torchwood actually does. Rhys tells the team what he saw in the warehouse. Jack and Rhys argue about Rhys messing things up and about being able to get back in. Rhys says he can get them in because he became a delivery boy. Jack calls a meeting.

Rhys shows them where everything is on the warehouse blueprints. Gwen is adamant that Rhys is not to get involved, but Jack and Rhys insist the idea is their only option. They will go in with stun guns, since the people are not organised criminals. Jack gives Gwen the option to stand down from the mission, since Rhys's involvement might make her vulnerable. She declines. Jack tells the team that they will save the alien and send it back through the Rift.

Owen makes a model of what he thinks the creature might look like. Toshiko brings him a sandwich and admires the model's beauty. Toshiko offers to keep Owen company while he works, but he gives her the work since he feels knackered. The pair spy on Gwen and Toshiko musters up the courage to ask Owen out for a game of pool. Owen misreads the signs and thinks she means a Torchwood tournament.

Rhys and Jack get the van for the infiltration. On their way to get the rest of the team, Jack explains why Gwen was picked for Torchwood. Jack and the others climb into the back of the van. They drive to the warehouse. Rhys tries to buy time for the team to get out of the van, then realises that they have already gone.

Tosh comforts owen

Tosh comforts Owen as he euthanises the creature.

Ianto and Owen enter a room filled with meat. Jack, Gwen and Toshiko enter the room where the alien is held. After taking out some of the workers, they find they are armed. Rhys's cover is blown and Ianto is captured. They are brought into the main room, where they learn that the alien is dubbed the "Cash Cow". Gwen reveals herself to save Rhys. Jack and Toshiko are spotted. Jack tells Dale and the others that they actually have an alien, which stuns them. Rhys is shot and Ianto unties his hand and grabs Dale's gun hand, making him fire at the Cash Cow and the ropes tying it down.

As the ropes break and the Cash Cow moves all over the place, Ianto goes after Dale and the others. Storming through the room, Ianto stuns Dale and the other worker. Owen is informed that the sedative won't work, leaving him with no option but to euthanise the creature. Owen bandages Rhys's wound as the Cash Cow dies.

Rhys new outlook

Rhys tells Gwen about his new outlook.

Back at the Hub, Owen patches up Rhys' wound and Jack says that they have given the workers amnesia pills to forget what they did during the past months. Jack tells Gwen that Rhys must be given a pill too. She asks if she can give it to him.

On exiting the Hub, Rhys has a changed view of the world. Gwen cannot bring herself to give him the pill. Jack relents, unwilling to fire Gwen and lose her from the team.


Uncredited cast[]


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.



Foods and beverages[]

  • The crew eat a pizza, though having just learned of the questionable meat in circulation they pick the meat toppings off it.
  • Ruth makes Rhys tea and brings him a danish.
  • The Torchwood team drink beer and wine.
  • Toshiko makes Owen cheese and pickle sandwiches.
  • Rhys eats ice cream.
  • Ianto drinks Cola Clubb lager.
  • Owen likes Meat Feast.

Welsh locations[]


  • The meat has a high level of chloride.
  • Ketamine is used in the injection for the alien.


  • Rhys once picked Leighton up to go to see football.
  • Toshiko asks Owen to a game of pool.


  • Dragon Rescue is the name of the crane company at the site of the lorry crash.
  • Torchwood has blueprints from Metropolitan Vickers.

Real world[]

  • As Rhys offers to drive the team to the warehouse, Gwen compares the idea to the cartoon Scooby Doo. Torchwood Magazine suggest that this was a knowing reference from Catherine Tregenna to Charlie Brooker's reaction to the first series of the show.

Story notes[]

  • The episode had the working title of Another Working Day.
  • A family friendly pre-watershed edit of this episode aired at 7:00pm, the following day, Thursday 7 February 2008 on BBC Two.
  • The Doctor Who TV stories The Beast Below and Thin Ice would later use the idea of a captive creature enslaved by humans in a way similar to this story. In those instances however, the Doctor was able to free the creatures involved.
  • The episode was made alongside Sleeper, which was also directed by Colin Teague, as part of block two of production of season two.
  • In discussing the origins of the central alien, Catherine Tregenna states that "we were just throwing ideas around and true to form Russell [T Davies] said "why isn't it just a great big whale in a warehouse?""
  • Russell T Davies states the alien was designed to be "one of Torchwood and Doctor Who's biggest monsters" not in terms of concept but its "literal size". He felt this provided insight into "the strangeness of life".
  • Richard Stokes states that the concept design team created an idea of what they envisaged the whale to look like. Catherine Tregenna felt that the original design for the creature was "a little fanciful" in that it was a bit too "beautiful and exotic" before deciding "if it looked like that they [the villains] would exhibit it, it would be a freak show." She characterises the final design as resembling "a giant kebab".
  • Contrary to observations from commentators, Catherine Tregenna did not intend the story to promote vegetarianism as she is not a vegetarian — she simply wanted to write an episode that was more action based than her series one episodes.
  • The hypothetical size of the space whale resulted in Colin Teague having to find this "huge great warehouse" and hire a fifty-foot crane for camera angles.
  • Whilst the main body of the alien was created using computer-generated imagery a prosthetic version of the cut wound in the side of the alien was available for the actors to interact with on set. Eve Myles describes it as being like filming within a "blood soaked, soppy big sponge".
  • The opening of the creature's eye was created using green screen. Kai Owen felt having to react to this to be the most unusual acting experience he'd had whilst filming the series.
  • In regards to the relationship between Gwen and Rhys, Russell T Davies felt that the episode provided a "rite of passage for the couple".
  • In storylining the second series, Russell T Davies states that "one of the first decisions we made was that we can't make this guy look like a sap any longer. He's got to be made aware of what's going on."
  • Catherine Tregenna identified one of the central themes of the episode as the "love triangle between Gwen, Rhys and Jack".
  • The argument in which Gwen ultimately reveals to Rhys that she catches aliens for a living was partly improvised by Eve Myles and Kai Owen.
  • To create the scene where Rhys is shot, Kai Owen's clothing was fitted with a minor explosive, the gunshot effect "[nipped] a bit" which both Colin Teague and Owen felt helped with the timing of the actor's reaction.


  • Unofficial overnight ratings - 2.9 million viewers
  • Official BARB ratings: 3.28 million viewers[2]

Filming locations[]

  • Roald Dahl Pass: Rhys watches Gwen with Jack
  • Imperial Park Bypass: Lorry crash
  • Mount Stuart Square: Torchwood hides in Rhys's van.
  • Trident Park: Meat warehouse (interior/exterior)
  • Senedd Building: Gwen and Rhys talk
  • Mermaid Quayside: Gwen and Rhys head home
  • BBC studios

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.
  • The BBC logo displayed during the opening montage is an SD version of the logo that has been stretched to accommodate the HD resolution. It's gently blurry around the edges.
  • When Owen and Ianto are at the slaughterhouse, Ianto talks to Jack over the com. He presses it and it beeps, but the com unit isn't there.
  • During the establishing shot of Cardiff after Rhys asks Gwen to prove she works with aliens, the helicopter's landing skid can be seen in the top-right corner of the screen.


Home video releases[]

  • Meat, 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[]