The letter sent by Lydia Childs in 1939 to Ianto Jones in 2009 was originally going to contain two pieces of information, first warning the later Torchwood about a menace that was due to rise again, and second, telling Ianto how to get back to her through the time slip. But I couldn’t see any reason why the Llandough Hags wouldn’t be in the non-confidential files anyway, or why Jack wouldn’t know all about them, so they became a separate issue. This had the effect of making the first part of the story, in which Jack rambled on about the day war broke out, rather irrelevant, as the story didn’t need to be set in 1939 and 2009 – making it a round seventy years between the two events. But it was a nice piece of writing, so I kept it in.
Punch cards for inputting computer information are slightly advanced for the 1940s. But Torchwood is always at the forefront of technology and it isn’t too far out, really. Exactly how Toshiko would get her modern computer to read them, I wouldn’t want to go into.
The Llandough Hags, are real, in so far as there were some witch burnings in the 15th or 16th century in that area. But most of the legend is made up. I found Llandough mentioned in a long list of places where that been such incidents. However, it didn’t say WHICH Llandough. There are two of them just outside of Cardiff. The one where St. Dochdwy's church can be found is the oldest one, and is near Penarth. The other is a small place near Cowbridge which only seems to date back to the 18th century. I would therefore guess it is the one that goes all the way back to Roman times. There is nothing as dramatic about the witches of Llandough as this story suggests, though.
Of course, the hunt for the hags is a bit of a hook. The main plotline is Ianto trying to get Jack to let him travel back in time to see Lydia, who he became fond of when they met in 1919. In the details that the Torchwood website give for the 1919 staff, Lydia Childs, who is very much Ianto’s predecessor in virtually the same job as him, died in the Blitz in 1941, so the story which follows will take him back to 1940/41, directly before her death in her early forties. It’s not intended to be a romance between her and Ianto. In any case, he loves Alun. He wouldn’t do that. He just wants to take this chance to do something special.
Jack’s reasons for wanting to stop him possibly
come across as a bit lame. He didn’t want him to get hooked on time
travel. Some readers have speculated there is more to it than that. Well,
not really. But if you want to read between the lines, feel free.