Nineteen-Nineteen draws on the Torchwood characters from the series two episode “To The Last Man”, Harriet Derbyshire and Gerald Carter, as well as others who are described in the extra information on the Torchwood website. Five characters are actually described and appear in a photograph, Harriet and Gerald, and also Douglas Caldwell, Dr Charles Quinn and Lydia Childs.
According to Ianto in the episode, Harriet died a year after the photograph was taken, and the photograph was apparently from 1918. That gave me a framework of year in which to set a story. I decided to on early in 1919 as it was a good way of excusing Jack from being at the Hub. He would still be on active duty in Europe. It took several months to fully demob all the thousands of men called up.
Reading the biographies of the five characters, the one who struck me most was Lydia, the secretary.
In other words, Lydia is a female version of Ianto!
From there, the idea of Ianto being the one who is sent back in time accidentally and gets involved with the 1919 team came together. His own identification with Lydia just had to be explored.
I originally was going to have him stuck there on his own, desperate to get back to Alun. Then, as I thought about the character of Gerald, an old school type, I thought it would be even more interesting if Alun and Ianto were both sent back in time, and Gerald’s 1919 military mind having to come to terms with a twenty-first century gay couple and actually learn to trust them with his life.
This was originally going to be one story, with all of that just as the introduction before the action began. But I really wanted to expand on the introduction of these characters and have some belief in them before their world starts to fall apart. So this is a story in its own right, allowing a certain amount of indulgence.
Incidentally, the 2008 TV series seemed to show two contradicting views of Torchwood at the turn of the century. On the one hand there was the slightly nutty Emily and Alice of the Victorian/Edwardian era, and then there was the very straight-laced era of Gerald and Harriet. A sea change obviously took place when Gerald took charge. The Alice and Emily episodes, though, suggested that Jack Harkness was not formally employed by Torchwood in their day. I wrote this story before those revelations, but even if I hadn’t, I would prefer my own version where Jack is a junior employee, keeping his head down, working his way up to the top, in between doing his bit in the war.