Out of Time (Torchwood)

"Out of Time" is the tenth episode of the first series of the British science fiction television series Torchwood, which was originally broadcast on the digital television channel BBC Three on 17 December 2006.

10 – "Out of Time"
Torchwood episode
Directed byAlice Troughton
Written byCatherine Tregenna
Script editorBrian Minchin
Produced byRichard Stokes
Chris Chibnall (co-producer)
Executive producer(s)Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Production code1.10
SeriesSeries 1
Length50 mins
First broadcast17 December 2006 (2006-12-17)
← Preceded by
"Random Shoes"
Followed by →
List of Torchwood episodes

The episode involves the alien-hunting team Torchwood taking care of and trying to repatriate a pilot and two passengers of an aircraft from 1953 which were brought forward to early 21st-century Cardiff.


The Torchwood team meet the Sky Gypsy, a vintage twin-engined aircraft that has passed through the Rift from 1953 and arrived in the present. The three people on board, pilot Diane Holmes and passengers Emma-Louise Cowell and John Ellis, are unaware of what has happened until they are told, and the Torchwood team helps to set each up with room and board while assisting them in adapting to modern conveniences. The three travelers separate, pairing off with members of the Torchwood team.

Diane and Owen Harper form a romantic bond. Diane continually yearns to fly again. Owen tries to help her to get flying lessons so she can pilot modern aircraft, but finds that not only will she have to wait weeks to take them, but airplanes of today are largely flown via instruments and autopilot, much to Diane's disappointment as she does not believe it constitutes "real flying".

John finds that his son is still alive but suffers from Alzheimer's disease and is in a nursing home, with no children to help look after him. Assisted by Jack Harkness, John visits his son, who barely remembers John's presence. John becomes very remorseful at missing his son's life and being unable to adapt to modern times.

Emma-Louise bonds with Gwen Cooper, and discovers that sex is much more promiscuous than in the 1950s. Gwen and her boyfriend Rhys Williams help Emma to become more accustomed to modern romance, although Rhys' trust in Gwen is damaged when he learns that her story about Emma-Louise being a distant relative is false.

When Jack discovers that Ianto Jones' car has gone missing, he believes John has taken it, and finds him in the garage of his old home ready to commit suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. Jack encourages him to start his life anew by telling him there is no afterlife, but John refuses and asks Jack to help him end his life with dignity. Jack holds John's hand as they succumb to the fumes and die; Jack resurrects immediately afterwards.

Emma's skills as a "retro" fashion artist land her a job in London. Gwen tries to convince her to stay in Cardiff, but tearfully helps Emma off to a bus station to enjoy her new life.

After a romantic night with Owen, Diane secretly leaves to fly the Sky Gypsy off through the same pattern, hoping to fly through the Rift back to 1953, but if not to simply explore the world. Owen realises that their relationship is different than any he's had before; he actually loves her as a person, rather just being attracted to her sexually. When he wakes up, Owen reads a note Diane left him and is able to catch her at the airfield before she leaves. He tries to prevent her from leaving, warning her that even if the Rift opens she may end up anywhere, but she refuses to heed his advice. They have a tearful moment before she flies off.


  • The Sky Gypsy is a de Havilland Dragon Rapide. It is identified as a de Havilland on the Torchwood Institute web site (where it is misnamed the Sea Gipsy).[1]
  • Conflicting information exists about the year in which the episode is set. 29 December is clearly stated as being on a Friday in the show (as it is in 2006); yet the entire series is set after the Doctor Who episode "Doomsday", which took place in 2007 in that series' continuity. However, other sources on the Torchwood Institute web site set this episode in late 2007.
  • Diane's fate is not shown in the episode. A vision of her appears to Owen in "End of Days", begging him to be "brought back".
  • When Jack is talking to John after his suicide attempt, he says that after you die, there is just black, partially echoing Suzie Costello in "They Keep Killing Suzie."


  • Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" (when Jack tunes the radio for John; Gwen talks with Emma as she unpacks) is featured in this episode, along with "Trouble" by Ray LaMontagne (when Diane and Owen share drinks at his apartment), "I See You Baby" by Groove Armada (Gwen and Rhys take Emma to a club) and "The Good Life" by Tony Bennett (when Diane and Owen dance on the roof of the car-park then return to his apartment).
  • The song sung by Emma in the hostel is "I Just Blew in from the Windy City" from Calamity Jane.

Outside referencesEdit

  • The visitors are taken to a branch of the supermarket Asda for their initial orientation, although efforts are made by the production team to disguise this fact. Several recognisable brands and products are also shown on the screen, albeit quite briefly, including Maltesers, Mars Bars, Twix, Kit Kats, Milky Way bars, Cadbury Dairy Milk, and M&M's, among others.
  • Diane muses about the possibility that famed aviator Amelia Earhart may also have flown through a rift when she disappeared.
  • John talks about the 1953 FA Cup Final between Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers, which Blackpool went on to win 4–3, and particularly praises the performance of Stanley Matthews during the match (known in football folklore as the "Matthews Final").
  • Rhys calls Emma "Pollyanna", a slang term which is derived from the main character of the 1913 novel Pollyanna.
  • Diane is delighted to see a Cessna at the air training school, remarking that they have "hardly changed at all". The plane is G-DRID, a Cessna 172, a model that dates back to the 1950s and has long been a popular flight training aircraft.


  1. ^ "The Rift: 1953 Report". BBC Torchwood Hub Interface. Archived from the original on 7 December 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2011.

External linksEdit