Sleeper (Torchwood)

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15 – "Sleeper"
Torchwood episode
Sleeper (Torchwood).jpg
Beth reveals her true identity under the influence of the mindprobe.
  • Paul Kasey – Janet the Weevil
  • Nikki Amuka-Bird – Beth Halloran[1]
  • Dyfed Potter – Mike Lyndon
  • Doug Rollins – David
  • Claire Cage – David's wife
  • Sean Carlson – Mr. Grainger
  • Victoria Pugh – Mrs. Grainger
  • Luke Rutherford – Burglar 1 (Leonard Bull)[2]
  • Alex Harries – Burglar 2 (Gareth Hopkins)[3]
  • Dominic Coleman – Police officer
  • William Hughes – Boy
  • Millie Philippart – Girl / Young mother
  • Matthew Arwel-Pegram – Driver
  • Derek Lea – Paramedic
Directed by Colin Teague
Written by James Moran
Script editor Brian Minchin
Produced by Richard Stokes
Chris Chibnall (co-producer)
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Production code 2.2
Series Series 2
Length 50 mins
Originally broadcast 23 January 2008
← Preceded by Followed by →
"Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" "To the Last Man"
List of Torchwood episodes

"Sleeper" is the second episode of the second series of the British science fiction television series Torchwood, which was first broadcast on BBC Two on 23 January 2008.[4][dead link] A specially edited pre-watershed repeat was shown the following day.[4][dead link]

In the episode, an alien sleeper cell with false memories attacks strategic targets in Cardiff to prepare the Earth for invasion.


Torchwood is called to investigate fatal injuries sustained by two burglars in the failed attempt to rob a flat owned by Beth Halloran and her husband. They suspect Beth is responsible, though she has no recollection of the events, but willingly goes with the team. When they return to the Hub and place Beth in one of the cells, a nearby Weevil cowers at Beth's presence. Jack suspects there is more to Beth than she lets on, and orders her to undergo a mind probe.

After numerous evaluations under the probe, they suddenly discover alien technology buried under Beth's right forearm, allowing it to transform into a bladed weapon that matches the injuries on the burglars; she herself is shocked by its presence. Jack surmises that she is an alien "sleeper agent", yet to be activated by its controller and given the belief it is human through memory transplants.

As the same time Torchwood discovers this, other sleeper agents are awakened by a signal, dropping whatever they were doing and setting off for assigned targets and killing those that got in their way. Three of them commit suicide bombings using explosives in the implants, destroying a communications centre and a military pipeline, and killing the Cardiff City Council member in charge of emergency responses. Torchwood learns of these events and quickly leave the Hub to investigate, allowing Beth to escape. She goes to the hospital where her husband was taken, but soon she too is sent a signal and though tries to fight to retain her humanity, accidentally stabs her husband. Jack and Gwen apprehend her, and she agrees to try to help locate any other sleeper agents.

Extrapolating from the targets already hit and the signal that Beth has received, Torchwood deduces that the agents are likely targeting a nearby military base that stores nuclear weapons; a bomb detonated in the base would likely wipe out much of the surrounding areas. Jack rushes to stop the sleeper agent, though ends up getting stabbed by the man. The man, unable to reach his target in time, warns that there are numerous other agents around Earth, before his implant explodes harmlessly outside the base.

Back at Torchwood, Beth is conflicted with the thoughts that she could kill again. Though the team tries to encourage her that they could help de-program her, she instead uses her implant, transformed into a blade, to threaten Gwen, forcing the others to shoot and kill her. As they deal with Beth's body, Gwen recognises that they will be able to deal with any other sleeper agents that may arrive.


The explosion of a building that was scheduled to be filmed in Cardiff on 1 July 2007, the day after 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack, was in danger of being cancelled. Instead, the filming was announced via the local media to warn the public that there would be a controlled explosion, and not another terrorist attack.[5]

Cast notes[edit]

William Hughes, who plays the Graingers' son, previously appeared as the eight-year-old version of the Master in the 2007 Doctor Who episode "The Sound of Drums".

Derek Lea, who plays the Sleeper Agent/Paramedic; also appears as a worker being examined by Martha Jones at the ATMOS factory in the 2008 Doctor Who episode "The Sontaran Stratagem" and as a taxi driver in "Partners in Crime".


Broadcast at 9pm on BBC 2 on 23 January 2008, the episode achieved 3.4 million viewers, a 14% share, "a solitary share point" down on the share of the season 2 debut episode on 17 January, according to The Guardian's report of overnight returns.[6] BARB later listed the episode as BBC2's top audience draw for week ending 27 January 2008, on a certified estimate of 3.78 million viewers including timeshift.[7]


  1. ^ " – Police Incident Report". BBC. 23 January 2008. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
  2. ^ " – Police Incident Report". BBC. 23 January 2008. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
  3. ^ " – Police Incident Report". BBC. 23 January 2008. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Week 4 Unplaced" (Press release). BBC – Press Office. 10 January 2008. Retrieved 2006-01-10.
  5. ^ "Sleepless in Cardiff". Torchwood Declassified. Series 2. Episode 2. 2008-01-24.
  6. ^ Crimewatch mugs ratings rivals, 24 January 2007, The Guardian
  7. ^ BARB Weekly Viewing Summary, Terrestrial Top 30, BBC2, week ending 27 January 2008

External links[edit]