Aliens of Kenfig started with a location. It was another of the places on the South Wales Coast featured in the TV series, Coast. On that programme, Kenfig Sands were presented as something of a national treasure, and the history of the Castle and the lost village below the dunes was presented in such a way as it grabbed my imagination at once. I knew that, sooner or later, I was going to set a Torchwood story there. That said, it went on the long finger while I thought of a storyline for it.
In the end, it has to be said, the story that I actually wrote could probably have been set in any rural part of Wales. The dunes and their history formed merely a backdrop to the aliens and their strange plan. I am not entirely certain I did the place justice.
The reaction of the team members to their hike over the dunes became a slightly longer piece than I originally intended. It isn’t just padding, though. I did want to establish fully how each of them felt about it. Ianto, with his encyclopaedic knowledge of everything would be talking about Fen Orchids, of course, and would know all about the castle and its environs. Alun, his doppelganger, would obviously listen with rapt attention. They would be like a pair of healthy young adults on their Duke of Edinburgh Awards hike, enjoying themselves.
I’m not entirely sure where they filmed those sequences of the Boeshane peninsula that appeared in the Adam episode of Torchwood, Series Two, but it must have been SOMEWHERE on the South Wales coast, and Kenfig with its beach and sand dunes looks a lot like it. There actually is some kind of oil refinery in the distance which could have been blocked off by the CGI habitat that was meant to be Jack’s home. So a sequence in which he remembers the good times of his childhood before it was all destroyed slotted in perfectly.
Owen never liked camping. We got that impression first from Countrycide, when he did nothing but moan through the whole journey into Brecon. He was proved right, of course. An hour out of Cardiff they were plunged into a village full of cannibals. My own camping story, Aliens of Brecon, similarly proved that the countryside is dangerous.
But I added in another element to Owen’s complaining. I have been slowly pushing the idea of a platonic, but growing, relationship between Owen and Toshiko. I took this opportunity for him to think about where that relationship is going while sulking about having to walk across the dunes. And where is that relationship going? Well, it’s a blank canvas. Since these two characters are dead in the TV series, I can do what I want with them. But for the present, I’m going with their continued platonic friendship with some wishful thinking. And that, actually, opened up possibilities for this story.
The clue was in the story of Professor Pask mentioning his wet dream in his statement. These aliens are here for the sex. Their initial visit was to scan the minds of their ‘victims’ and find the objects of their desire. For Alun and Ianto that was easy. For Owen, too, simple enough. For Jack, the object of his desire was a surprise, I hope. He didn’t think of Garrett, his current love interest. He was consumed by erotic memories of his hottest love affair, the one he had with Captain John Hart.
I don’t much like Captain John. I thought he was a bad idea in the first story of Season Two and he hadn’t improved much by the last episode. I decided against his involvement in the previous story, Butcher of Telligan for that reason. But having him turn up briefly, to remind Jack of days when he liked to live fast, and then turn out to be just an alien copy of him, anyway, was enough to acknowledge that these stories are connected to the TV series in a small way, at least.
The two scenes with Ianto by the castle and Alun asleep in his tent, were always a source of doubt. Would readers GET that the two are being visited by simulacrums of their lovers? In fact, most of the feedback I’ve had is that people didn’t GET it at the time, but later, they reconnected with the two scenes and understood that they had been fooled as well as Alun and Ianto had been. It worked. And I’m quite pleased that it did.
The fourth alien, the one that went to Owen, was a dark haired female. I don’t need to explain who Owen thought it was, do I? But the point is that Jack briefly recognised the face and now knows something about Owen he didn’t before.