the new "Doctor Who" - whatever happened to UNIT?

I just finished watching series two on DVD last night. The running theme throughout the series was the Torchwood institute - which I gather has something to do with the ‘Torchwood’ spin-off show with Jack Harkness. But as (spoilers!) the Cybermen & Daleks were facing off on Canary Wharf, and human (presumably Torchwood) troops were vainly trying to fight against both races of evil aliens, I couldn’t help thinking whatever happened to UNIT? Wasn’t the point of that group to combat alien menaces? If so, why does England need Torchwood? And given that UNIT has had experience fighting BOTH Daleks & Cybermen, why weren’t they called in when chaos was breaking out?

Since Torchwood was established by Queen Victoria, it certainly isn’t a replacement for UNIT, which was formed in some undetermined mid-late 20th century time. But if Torchwood was there all along, why did the mid-70s British gov’t feel the need to create another agency - UNIT - to fight off aliens?

And exactly what was Torchwood doing all throughout the 1960s & 70s while UNIT was doing the grunt work fighting off Cybermen, Nestene/Autons, Silurians, Axos, Daemons, Sea Devils, dinosaurs, giant-sized robots & Krynoids?

The ill-fated director lady of Torchwood seemed to have an imperiously heavy-handed attitude about Torchwood’s authority. “If it’s alien technology, we own it.” I think was the line. I’d imagine Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart might have a word or two about this snooty middle-management-type chick suddenly demanding that his UNIT scientists hand over whatever alien gadgets they might acquire - especially considering how many of his soldiers probably died getting their hands on it.

So, I’ve yet to see any ‘Torchwood’ episodes. Does this issue get addressed? Or is UNIT just swept under the rug and forgotten?

UNIT’s around, the Doctor talked about them in either “Aliens of London” or “World War Three”. Said he worked with them years ago but they wouldn’t recognize him. UNIT seems to handle the physical military/security aspect but leaves the technological part to Torchwood; sort of like MI 5 & MI 6.

By the way, UNIT is an arm of the United Nations, not the British government.

They were called to the meeting of alien experts in “Aliens of London” and the aliens tried to kill them. None at the meeting were specifically linked to Torchwood, but there were a bunch of people there who were not introduced and whose affiliation was unnamed, so there may have been Torchwood representatives at the meeting. But Torchwood was so secret that when Harriet Jones as Prime Minister mentioned them in The Christmas Invasion, it was clear that it was a surprise that the PM knew about it.

True, true, but the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce IS based outside of London, staffed almost entirely with British personnell (or humanoid-looking aliens who speak with British accents), and seems to operates primarily in the British Isles, which in the world of ‘Dr. Who’ seems to be the perennial favorite location for alien menaces to stage world takeover schemes of the Earth.

Not sure how canonical they are but some novels introduced UN bases France, Russia, and Southeast Asia.

Several points, first of all UNIT is an international organisation. We only ever see the British part, but it’s the UNITED NATIONS Intelligence Taskforce. The Brigadier sometimes talks about his superiors in Geneva. (See about 8:15) Torchwood, however, is entirely British.

Secondly, Torchwood is a self-appointed and clandestine organisation. It has no official standing. It operates on its own, without government control. The Prime Minister isn’t even supposed to know it exists. UNIT didn’t know about them. The Doctor had never heard of them all the time he was at UNIT.

Third, it operates for its own purposes. At the time of the Battle Of Canary Wharf, it was primarily concerned with to gathering and studying alien technology, getting ready for a future British empire. They weren’t about fighting alien manaces. Well, they were about fighting The Doctor, but that’s about it.

Except that in the show Torchwood the fucking pizza boy knows who and where the are! Which isn’t surprising, since they drive around in a big SUV with flashing lights and the word TORCHWOOD in bright yellow letters. But they’re still secret. Really secret.

UNIT is occasionally mentioned in passing, but less frequently and in less detail than in the current Doctor Who. The fact that UNIT and Torchwood have slightly different provenance and missions is something I hadn’t thought of, but the lack of interaction (and awareness) between the organizations is still the biggest thing that bugs me when watching both shows. I’m hoping the next Torchwood series explains it, but I’m not holding my breath.

But that was after Canary Wharf, where they had been exposed. So by that time, they were known to exist. And Jack chewed out the one who ordered the pizza and gave “Torchwood” as the name. He wasn’t supposed to do that.

How were they exposed in Canary Wharf? I thought that was caused by drugs in the water system! :wink: Even if you believe it, how did it expose Torchwood, rather than Daleks and Cybermen?

There was at least one Torchwood episode, IIRC, that mentioned that one of the Torchwood staff was preparing some kind of report for UNIT.