Spoilers are precisely defined here. Rules vary by the story's medium. Info from television stories can't be added here until after the top or bottom of the hour, British time, closest to the end credits roll on BBC One. Therefore, fans in the Americas who are sensitive to spoilers should avoid Tardis on Sundays until they've seen the episode.



Small Worlds was the fifth episode in the first series of Torchwood. It was written by Peter J. Hammond, and directed by Alice Troughton.

It was the first story to explore Jack's past in any detail, such as revealing that Jack had been in a relationship with a British woman, Estelle Cole, in the mid-20th century.


Jack encounters monsters from his past: fairies, with the ability to choke people with rose petals and control the weather, make a series of killings centred around a little girl, the Chosen One. He also reunites with an old friend, but will Estelle Cole be safe when she starts to get a little too close to these fairies? And how can Torchwood stop a force from the dawn of time, masters of Earth, their domain? More importantly, what is so crucial about a little girl named Jasmine, for whom these creatures will gladly tear the world apart?


An elderly woman walks through the woods at night, speaking into a tape recorder about what she hopes to witness. Peeking round a bush, she sees a number of small glowing winged lifeforms, fluttering and giggling over a small circle of standing stones. Ecstatic at seeing her "little darlings", the woman snaps a few pictures before leaving. She doesn't notice them transform into something a lot more dangerous-looking, something that looks very displeased at being discovered...

At the Hub, Jack wakes from a nightmare of dead soldiers in a train carriage with rose petals spilling out of their mouths. He finds a single rose petal atop his desk. Ianto, still in-office, informs Jack about strange weather patterns in the area.

The next day, Jack takes Gwen to visit an old friend of his, Estelle Cole, give a talk on fairies. Estelle shows them the Cottingley fairy photos, then compares them to photographs she had taken the day before. She claims to have found proof of the fairies' existence.

After her presentation, Jack and Estelle discuss the photographs and the nature of fairies at her home. Gwen asks Estelle and Jack about an old photograph she found of Jack. They both claim it is of Jack's father, and say that he had a relationship with Estelle during World War II. Estelle mentions that Jack looks and walks just like his father. Jack interrupts that thought, and asks Estelle to let him know if she encounters any more fairies.

On the way back to Torchwood, Jack explains to Gwen that the fairies are creatures from the dawn of time and are not bound by linear time. He says that the fairies can be very dangerous. Jack instructs Toshiko to watch for strange weather patterns in the area in order to locate the creatures.

Meanwhile, a young girl, Jasmine Pierce, decides to walk home from school alone as her mother's boyfriend, Roy, did not arrive on time to pick her up. She encounters a man, Mark Goodson, a paedophile, who tries to lure her into his car. When Goodson makes a grab for Jasmine, a strong wind kicks up, accompanied by strange, ethereal voices. Goodson retreats into his car while Jasmine continues to skip home to play with her fairy friends in the nearby woods.

Later, a tense Goodson, still hearing the voices, stumbles through the Cardiff market, stalked by something unseen by the other shoppers. Something strikes at him and he starts to cough up rose petals. He gets himself arrested to seek the safety of a jail cell, where he admits to his paedophilia to the police officers at the station, hoping that the creatures will leave him alone. That night, however, he hears wings buzzing as he tries to sleep and, rolling over, screams as the same hostile creature from the woods lunges at him... He is found the next day, dead by asphyxiation, but with no external evidence of strangulation and the CCTV shows only him in his death throes; no sign of the creature. The baffled police summon Torchwood, who find Goodson's mouth filled with blood soaked rose petals. Jack confirms that Goodson was killed by the fairies as part of their protection of a "Chosen One", a child who will soon become one of them if Torchwood cannot find her in time. Finding the Chosen One is the only advantage they have over the fairies, who cannot be fought in any other way. They cannot be trapped or killed, and have control over the elements themselves; but the Chosen Ones are important to them.

Late at night, Estelle hears the strange voices after attempting to communicate with the fairies using crystals, and realises that bad fairies are present. She calls Jack to alert him. However, before Torchwood can arrive, she drowns in a rainstorm although everything around her is completely dry, as she went outside to find her cat Moses, who hid under the bushes as she drowned. Jack mourns her loss, and Gwen makes him admit that it was he who had a relationship with Estelle long ago. Jack explains that he has seen the rose petals before, on a train in Lahore in 1909. Some of his troops had drunkenly run over a little girl. A week later, all of his men died, their mouths stuffed with petals, and he realised that the young girl had been a Chosen One. Gwen returns home to find her own flat in disarray and seriously vandalised, with leaves and rock patterns on the floor. The team understand that the fairies are becoming more protective and aggressive, warning Torchwood not to interfere in their affairs.

At her school the next day, Jasmine is bullied by two girls and the fairies come to her defence, making a huge gale sweep up around the bullies and sending all the other children fleeing in terror, apart from Jasmine, who watches in glee. Her teacher Kate manages to push through the gale and grab the girls, making the fairies cease their assault. Torchwood arrives to find the school closing for the day and interrogate Jasmine's teacher. Kate says that no-one was harmed, but the only one not affected by the storm was Jasmine.

Meanwhile, Jasmine's mother Lynn and Roy are celebrating five years together with a backyard barbecue party. Jasmine helps her mother with the food, and gives disturbing answers to her mother's questions, when she asked about her about her fairy friends. When Jasmine goes outside, she finds that the backyard has been fenced off by Roy to prevent her from going to the woods. Angry, she bites him. He slaps her and calls her a bitch, which prompts an immediate response from the fairies. The sky begins to turn grey and thunder rumbles, but the party continues. As Roy makes a speech, the fairies reveal themselves in their true form and attack, killing Roy by clogging his throat with petals as punishment for his child abuse.

Torchwood arrives in time to prevent harm to other guests, but Jasmine and the fairies race off to the woods. Jack catches up with her and demands that the fairies not take her away. They refuse, stating that she is their Chosen One and if she is prevented from going, the fairies will kill the entire world in response. Admitting he has no other choice, Jack requests a promise that Jasmine will not be harmed. The fairies respond that she will live forever. Jack lets Jasmine go, and she skips away, thanking Jack in an ethereal voice, surrounded by glowing fairies, and vanishes. Lynn, seeing this, cries angrily and beats Jack over and over. The only thing Jack can do is apologise. Lynn has lost both her boyfriend and her only daughter in one afternoon.

The Torchwood Three crew return to their transport vehicle with tension in the air. Gwen, Owen, and Toshiko are evidently disturbed by Jack's concession to the fairies' demands, but all proceed silently. None of them speak a word about what just transpired, afraid to set off a powder keg, but they make little effort to hide their disapproval. Jack notices a few dirty looks from his peers, leaving him to defensively respond, "What else could I do?"

Back at the Hub, Gwen sorts through the pictures in the case. A Cottingley Fairies photograph from 1917 appears on the board room monitor screen. Spotting something, she zooms in on the photograph until the face on one of the fairies becomes clear. It is Jasmine, frozen in mid-dance, smiling. A fairy voice whispers: "Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand, For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand." ("The Stolen Child", by William Butler Yeats)



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[]

  • Roy is drinking St Nicholas Welsh Lager beer during the party. 

Story notes[]

  • The episode was repeated on BBC Two, three days later at 9:00pm on Wednesday 15 November 2006.
  • Owen claims that Harry Houdini believed in the Cottingley fairies. In reality, he didn't and got into frequent discussions with his friend Arthur Conan Doyle over them.
  • Gwen also states that the girls who took the photos admitted the whole incident was a hoax in their later years. While it is true that they confessed to faking the photos, both women went to their graves insisting that they really did see fairies.
  • This story is the only episode in the first series of Torchwood to not contain any swearing.


  • 1.26 million viewers[1]

Filming locations[]

to be added

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.
  • When Roy is putting up the fence, the overhead view shows him nailing the third post. The view from the side shows him nailing in a different post, however.


Home video releases[]

Series one, part one DVD cover

DVD releases[]

  • This episode, with four others, was first released on a DVD entitled Torchwood: Series 1, part 1 on 26 December 2006.
  • It was later released in Torchwood: The Complete First Series on 19 November 2007.
  • It was also released in the Series 1-4 boxset (Region 2 release: 14 November 2011.)

Blu-ray releases[]

  • Released in the US with the rest of Series 1 as a Complete First Season set on 16 September 2008.
  • It was released in the Series 1-3 Blu-ray boxset on 26 October 2009 in the UK. The US release was on 19 July 2011.
  • It was also released in the Series 1-4 Blu-ray boxset. (Region 2 release: 14 November 2011)

External links[]