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© (c) 2008 BBC Worldwide TORCHWOOD- Naoko Mori



No more ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS specials, but Titicaca lives on in Tosh

By SEAN ELLIOTT, Senior Editor
Published 2/29/2008

TORCHWOOD season two is off and running with even more surprises and excitement than the first season, and who better to catch us up to date on what to expect than one of the TORCHWOOD team, actress Naoko Mori.

Mori who plays scientist Toshiko Sato chatted with iF MAGAZINE about how different this new season of TORCHWOOD is, toys, new guest stars, and of course AB FAB. TORCHWOOD airs Saturdays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on BBC AMERICA.

iF MAGAZINE: How do you feel about this season in comparison to last season?
NAOKO MORI: I really do think this series kind of nails it. With first seasons, most shows have what I call ‘first season-itis.’ It’s a work in progress and everyone is getting a feel for it. I think we’ve really found our identity in the new series. I think it’s warmer and more cohesive and we work stronger as a team, I hope. The storylines are more character driven.
iF: This season seems to be more about working together instead of sniping each other and making cutting remarks.

MORI: Yes I would agree. Both series are valid in that kind of environment. In the first it’s like family you shout and scream and you can do that because you love each other and the characters would die for each other. So it makes sense to have both types of series.   
iF: So let's talk about the forthcoming TORCHWOOD action figures.

MORI: Is that actually happening? It’s only happening with Captain Jack right?
iF: Yeah it’s happening. The first series is supposed to be Jack, Gwen, the Cyberwoman, and a Weevil. But I would guess that the rest of the cast is slated for future releases.
MORI: Oh that’s fantastic! We don’t get told anything. [Laughs] Wow. I’m still trying to get over the fact that we have a magazine. It’s been the most amazing experience. If we all get action figures wow, I can’t believe it. It’s been such an amazing journey.  
iF: Your show and DOCTOR WHO are pretty much at the center of a science fiction whirlwind right now.
MORI: The DOCTOR WHO fans have got to be pretty excited that Martha Jones [Freema Agyeman] is coming on the show.
iF: Well, TORCHWOOD has been a great hit over here. Was it a surprise that it was the number one show in ratings for BBC America?
MORI: Yes, absolutely. I always felt like the U.S. shows are so much bigger and we have so many brilliant shows from you over here. I always wondered if TORCHWOOD would work outside of the UK, because we’re very set in Cardiff and Wales and hopefully as far as storylines and scripts are concerned it’s very universal and there’s something for everyone. That’s the beauty of the show; however we haven’t got the big budgets for episodes like you guys have in the US. So, it was a total surprise and very pleasant surprise for me.  

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iF: What’s interesting to me is the U.S. audience that watches TORCHWOOD with little or no interest in DOCTOR WHO.
MORI: Actually I think that is a good thing because it shows that we have our own identity. That means that we can reach out to a wider audience. That was my biggest worry when we did the first series was, "did I have to know stuff about DOCTOR WHO? Do people need to watch DOCTOR WHO to understand TORCHWOOD," but they don’t. I’m amazed and excited and I’m so glad that it’s been doing so well in the States.   
iF: Well the ratings on both series in the UK and in the US have been really strong.
MORI: I try not to think about stuff like that. I just go to work each day and try not to have too high of expectations as to how people are going to react to the show. You watch John who’s been in the business so long and I think, "I’ll just do the best I can, I’ll do my job and keep my head down and hope for the best." It’s been a big, big bonus to see how well it’s been received. I genuinely, hand on heart, feel gratitude for the amazing support the show has gotten.  
iF: Let’s talk about the writing on the show. The team is kind of omni-sexual and that isn’t really an issue in the U.K. or even in Europe. That sort of sets it apart from any other show on the air here. It’s nice to see a show where flexible sexuality isn’t an issue.
MORI: It shouldn’t be. This is something that is a very delicate subject, like anything racial. The bigger deal you make of something, the bigger it gets. For Tosh, I wouldn’t say that she has any kind of label. The minute "Greeks Bearing Gifts" happened everyone assumed she was a lesbian or bisexual. It has nothing to do with that. She just happens to come across as someone she connects to and she just happens to be a woman. Not in a million years, did she ever think she would sleep with a woman, but it was about a human connection and a deeper connection. She was vulnerable and she came across someone who was very enigmatic, it was almost the wrong place and wrong time. It wasn’t a sexual thing it was more to do with her finding an ally. She found an outlet and friend and someone she could talk to outside of TORCHWOOD. I’ve always tried to not to put a label on her. She’s not gay, not that I’m condoning it or condemning it either way. It’s just not an issue. How are people in the States taking it with the gay kisses and the sexual content?  
iF: I haven’t heard much about it. People just accept it as part of the show. So this is a really geeky question, but was Tommy unfrozen in series one?
MORI: Yes I think he definitely was, it just happened off camera. I mean, so many things were happening in the first series that it could’ve been anywhere in there, or even before Gwen joined Torchwood. With everything with Jack and the Cyberwoman and the rift, Tommy being woken up was something of a non-event. That’s another relationship that came as a surprise to Tosh, I don’t think she was expecting to make a connection with Tommy and it seemed kind of wrong to her because he was eight years old. [Laughs] What was interesting was that she was in a bit of denial, but it seemed like a brother/sister relationship where she was always looking after him when he was defrosted. Then on that particular day, the roles reversed and even though he was this young guy from 1918 that was technically younger than her, the scales tipped and it became romantic and Tommy took more control of the direction of things.
iF: Well, and she knew he was going off to die, so if she didn’t shag him, no one was going to!
MORI: [Laughs] Aw bless Tosh, she’s had a hard time. She’s coming out of her shell.
iF: What was your favorite Tosh thing you’ve done so far?
MORI: I think the beauty of Tosh is her learning lessons; especially in her love life, her non-existent love life. Although someone pointed out to me she is the one that probably gets it the most out of all of the characters.
iF: Hmm Jack has Ianto at his fingertips so that’s debatable. 
MORI: [Laughs] True, true. But as far as variety goes, Tosh does ok. We’ve got some really cracking episodes coming up. As far as the acting I do like the character driven stuff. I have a lot of technical things and all of the action we do, but I really like the little moments like when Tosh asks Owen out. Those are the times when you get to show the real Tosh, the non-work Tosh. We got to do a lot more that in series two.
iF: So moving on to other roles you are known for, does anyone on set give you a bad time and call you Titicaca[Naoko’s character from ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS]?
MORI: [Laughs] Oh God, Burn [Gorman] knows the lines and literally about every couple of weeks he begs me to say my lines, "do you want to sex him" or "I drank a whole can of cider." He will literally roll around on the floor laughing. Every couple of weeks he says, "go on do it, do it!" I think Tosh and Titicaca are related, they have to be cousins at least. Which makes me ask myself why I am always playing nerds? I always play these pathetic characters. Is someone trying to tell me something? I am a geek and a nerd, but hopefully not so much of one. I am a bit of a klutz or a nerd. [Laughs]
iF: Do you think there will be another AB FAB special?
MORI: You know, Jennifer Saunders and I ran into each other in between TORCHWOOD series one and two and we talked to each other. She looked at me and said, "don’t you think we’re getting a bit too old to go back darling?" [Laughs] But, at the end of the second series she said that was the end of AB FAB and we had a huge party, and then at the end of each series after that and each special we had a party for the end of AB FAB; so I guess you never know.  

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