Children of Earth is the banner title of the third series of the British television science fiction series Torchwood, which broadcast for five episodes on BBC One in 2009. The series had new producer Peter Bennett and was directed by Euros Lyn, who had considerable experience on the revived Doctor Who. Torchwood is a series about an organisation known as Torchwood which defends the Earth against alien threats. The plot of Children of Earth deals with aliens demanding the Earth's children, and a related earlier conspiracy; as such, Torchwood is pitted against the British government when it attempts to conceal its past actions and concede to the present-day aliens' demands. The first, third, and fifth episodes of the serial were written by executive producer Russell T Davies, who also conceived its overall storyline. The third episode was co-written by James Moran whilst the second and fourth were penned by newcomer John Fay.
Because the BBC was not awarded the increase in the licence fee they requested, Torchwood (like Doctor Who the same year) faced budget cuts. As part of Davies' agreement with the BBC, Torchwood was stripped across the network's premiere channel, BBC One, every weeknight for one week in July 2009. Despite the move to BBC One, the show was cut from a standard thirteen episode run to just five, something that lead actor John Barrowman felt was almost like a "punishment" from the BBC. Production on the mini-series began in August 2008, and Barrowman along with actors Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, and Kai Owen (now given co-star billing) all returned. The serial significantly features new actors to the series over the course of its five episodes, most prominently Peter Capaldi. Russell T Davies had to substantially rewrite parts of the serial to accommodate the unavailability of actors Freema Agyeman and Noel Clarke, whose presence in the serial had been set up in the 2008 Doctor Who finale.
When the series defied expectations by achieving good ratings (peaking at 6.76 million), Davies stated that a surprised BBC Controller rang to congratulate him. Mid-summer evenings are typically considered a graveyard slot for television series. The serial also received very positive reviews, particularly in comparison to the programme's previous two series. Some fans were upset by the death of a main character in the fourth episode of the serial. A collective of these fans called for the writers to bring back the character in a future episode but Davies, his co-writers and the programme's actors stated that doing so would damage the integrity of the serial. On the back of Children of Earth's success, a fourth series was commissioned in 2010 in conjunction with the US network Starz. The new series will go into production in 2011, with a new American setting.