Save Ianto Jones

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Fan Campaign
Name: Save Ianto Jones
Type of Campaign: letterwriting campaign, auction, fundraising, photo project
Aims: To memorialize and celebrate Ianto Jones, and to petition for his resurrection.
Participants: Torchwood fans
Date Started: July 2009
Fandom: Torchwood
Campaign Website: Save Ianto, Save Ianto Jones, SIJ Livejournal Save the Coffee Boy Livejournal
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Save Ianto Jones was a fan campaign dedicated to memorializing and resurrecting the character Ianto Jones on the TV series Torchwood. Fans wrote letters and shipped coffee to the BBC, wrote about their grief on social media, raised money for charity, and even built Ianto's Shrine in Mermaid's Quay, Cardiff. While the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, the interest surrounding the campaign resulted in many spin-off Torchwood media producing Ianto-themed content, including an audiobook where Ianto was resurrected. In addition, Ianto's Shrine was officially recognized by the management of Mermaid's Quay with a plaque, and remains standing as of March 2019.

Context

Ianto Jones was a well-liked character, and seen as important representation to the queer community. While TPTB hadn't invested much in Ianto, the fandom spent a large amount of time investing in Ianto's character, to the extent that some of their headcanons and fanon made it into the show.[1] But by the end of Series 2, things had taken a darker turn with Owen Harper and Toshiko Sato's deaths. Ianto soon followed, and died during Torchwood: Children of Earth Day Four, leaving only Gwen Cooper and Captain Jack Harkness left alive in Torchwood. Despite the hurt of the deaths of Tosh and Owen, it was Ianto's death (and its avoidability) in particular that angered fans, and by the airing of the episode, Ianto Jones' death was trending higher than Michael Jackson's death on Twitter.[2] Soon afterwards, the Save Ianto Jones campaign was born in an effort to resurrect him.

Manifesto

[Save Ianto Jones]

Please note, this documentation is presented as created in the early days of the campaign and for historical purposes. Our activities and motivations stem from these rallying words, and though we might have a bit different focus now, we honor the humble beginnings of our efforts to Save Ianto Jones.

The Manifesto

We, the dedicated fans of Torchwood, Ianto Jones and Gareth David-Lloyd, Jack Harkness and John Barrowman, and Gwen Cooper and Eve Myles, call upon the brilliant team of creative minds behind Doctor Who, Torchwood, the Sarah Jane Adventures, and all things good in the Doctor Who universe to find an innovative and canon-compliant way to reunite the Torchwood team after the devastating events of the BBC’s speculative drama Children of Earth.

It must be acknowledged, above all else, that we, the fans, hold a great deal of love for Torchwood and its characters, and we wish for nothing more than a continuation of both.

In itself, we consider Children of Earth to be an exciting and well-acted piece of television: pacy, dark, raw, and with no punches pulled. Its success when regarded as a five-part standalone is not only considerable, but well-deserved, and therefore we do not hesitate to recognise the achievements of all those involved with both its inception and development.

However, within the larger context of Torchwood as we have grown to love it, Children of Earth seems far more appropriate as a series farewell than as a third series intended to lead into a fourth and beyond. For many fans, the main draw of Torchwood has always been its characters. In the first two years of the series, we were led to believe that Jack was preparing his team for vast changes which would shake humanity to its core. As we watched them grow as characters and learn about the challenges they were facing, we became emotionally invested in Ianto, Jack, and Gwen’s coping with whatever the Universe brought them; yet by the end of Children of Earth two of our three reasons for tuning in – namely, Ianto Jones and Jack Harkness – were gone. This loss has saddened and angered many fans to the point that we cannot foresee watching a version of Torchwood that does not include Ianto, Jack, and Gwen, together.

We are the UK viewers who established Torchwood’s initial success, facilitated its move to BBC2, and trusted the creative team behind it to bring us a brilliant and explosive hit on BBC1. We are the US viewers who have made Torchwood one of BBC America’s top-rated programs. We are the fans, the consumers at home and abroad, who purchase the novels, DVDs, audio books, sound tracks, action figures, and other related merchandise. As an audience, we now implore the creative team responsible for Torchwood to take the following actions so that they might continue bringing us the series we love.

We ask that the character of Ianto Jones, as portrayed by Gareth David-Lloyd, return as a regular member of the team. We acknowledge that, given the trauma he experienced in Children of Earth, Ianto will have to struggle with new issues, but Torchwood, the series that captured the fans’ hearts, cannot continue without him.
A large part of the core audience relates to Ianto as an individual struggling to identify himself and his place in the world. He is just coming into his own, not only in terms of character development, but also as a full member of the team and a vital, stabilizing force for, and brilliant foil to, the sometimes reckless Captain Jack Harkness. For many fans Ianto, more than any other character, is the true heart and soul, even the humanity, of Torchwood.
In the Doctor Who universe, ‘lost’ characters have been brought back several times already, and with the wonders of that universe at their disposal, we are confident the writers will be able to devise a brilliant and plausible way to restore Ianto.
Once Ianto Jones returns and is reunited with Gwen Cooper, as portrayed by Eve Myles, they will need Jack Harkness, his charisma, and his knowledge of space, time, and the Universe. Again, it is accepted as given that Jack will have to face the consequences of certain actions taken in Children of Earth, but without Jack Harkness, as without Ianto Jones, Torchwood as we have loved it is finished.

In the future we would encourage the creative team behind Torchwood to explore other ways of maintaining drama and suspense rather than simply executing beloved characters. While we do, of course, recognise character-death as a valid and sometimes necessary plot device, writing out three-fifths of the Torchwood team in just five episodes seems excessive. There are fates worse than death. We fans would prefer to follow those characters we already know and love as they endure, survive, and transcend such hardships, and we are convinced that the writers of Torchwood can rise to such a challenge.

This is our position as dedicated fans of the brilliant television series Torchwood as it existed in its first two series. We may have been disappointed, but we are not yet discouraged. We still trust the minds behind Torchwood to consider sincerely our concerns and respectfully request that they take them into account in producing any further seasons of Torchwood.[3]

Projects

The Flat Ianto Project

[cloudillusion]
On Day Four of Torchwood's Children of Earth, Ianto Jones, coffee boy and alien fighter extraordinaire, died. But we here at the Flat Ianto Project know that in sci-fi, dead does not have to mean forever. To this end, we have a suggestion for the BBC and other Torchwood Powers That Be: Ianto's not dead...he's just traveling! After all, after those harrowing five days of Children of Earth, who needs a vacation more than Ianto?[4]

The Flat Ianto project was a project directly influenced by the American Flat Stanley Project. Fans were encouraged to take photos of a printout of Ianto or of Ianto action figures while on their travels, to show others that Ianto hadn't died, he'd just been traveling. Ianto's adventures were then uploaded online. Fans took photos of their Flat Ianto's all over the northern hemisphere, from Finland to the UK, to the USA, to Turkey, and beyond.

Fundraising for Children in Need

Ianto died trying to save the children of Earth, and fans therefore found it fitting to donate to the UK charity Children in Need. In July 2009, a JustGiving page was set up in Ianto's memory, soliciting donations for Children in Need in memory of Ianto. By October 2012, the page had raised £15,965.50 in memory of Ianto.[5]

In March 2010, an auction had been set up in order to raise money for Children In Need. Fans offered fannish crafts, such as badges, buttons, fanvids, beaded pendants, cookies, and knitwear in exchange for donations to the Save Ianto JustGiving page for Children in Need.[6]

Direct Action

Letterwriting Campaigns

The Save Ianto Campaign encouraged fans to write to the BBC, with sample postcards available to send via physical post. Fans got in touch to express their grief and anger both via letters and on social media, and also took part in polls to express their disappointment. Below is an example of an email sent.

[dvcorvis]
Dear BBC/BBC-America

Firstly I would like to preface this E-Mail by stating that while this takes the form of a complaint I would also like to include that I am enjoying this season Doctor Who very much. Steven Moffat has given the show; the stories, back its heart and has totally rejuvenated it from what they were last season. I applaud all those involved from those of you at BBC to both Moffat AND of course the very wonderful Matt Smith. Thank You!

However this said it also makes be rather envious that Doctor Who can get such a welcome addition of Steven Moffat while Torchwood Season Four remains in a hiatus limbo. I guess what I am saying is that I am enjoying Doctor Who so much that it is my hope now that when season four of Torchwood is being considered that that some like Steven Moffat can also step in and re-energize this show. Bringing back Ianto Jones is a good start. But I think Torchwood could also benefit from someone like Moffat stepping in and likewise giving Torchwood its much needed recharge after last season's so very bleak (too bleak) season three.

Keep giving me shows like Doctor Who I love it but I think Torchwood deserves the same treatment as well.[7]

Some fans reacted much more aggressively than others - James Moran asked fans to tone down the vitrol[8], and there were other reports of abusive or vitrolic messages from fans, although Moran noted that "[...]even though many of them are upset, angry and shocked, they have managed to express that without making it personal." [9] As a result of fannish grief over Ianto's death, the BBC received more than 7,600 emails petitioning for Ianto's resurrection.[10]

The Great Coffee Protest

[chryssalys]
Ianto Jones makes the perfect cup of coffee. We know, because we watched it on screen. And we want to watch it again. Because of that, coffee seemed the perfect item to send to the BBC as a symbol of our love for Ianto and our desire to have him back on Torchwood.[11]

Sending coffee was one of the ways the Save Ianto Jones campaign intended to petition the BBC to resurrect Ianto. It was initially sent only to the BBC, but when Starz LLC collaborated with the BBC for Torchwood Series 4, fans began sending coffee to them too.

The campaign listed three ways fans could ship coffee to TPTB:

  • Directly shipping it to the companies in cards, letters and boxes.
  • Donating to chryssalys to ship Resurrection coffee in bulk from Ravens Brew directly to the companies.
  • Shipping coffee via Red Monkey Coffee, and putting the BBC address as the shipping address.
Russell T Davies claimed that only nine bags of coffee ever made their way to the BBC[12], but a fan post tallying the shipments records the number as much higher[13]. On the Save the Coffee Boy LiveJournal, it states that "every month, the Save Ianto Jones campaign clubs together to send a 20 bag batch of Ravens Brew "Resurrection" coffee to the BBC".[14] In June 2010, 20 bags of Resurrection coffee were returned to Raven's Brew after failing to be delivered to the BBC, and as a result, a 40 bag shipment of Resurrection coffee was instead shipped to the head office of Starz LLC.[15]
The two plaques dedicated to Ianto Jones, located next to Ianto's Shrine.

The Cardiff Shrine

Main article: Ianto's Shrine

Following Ianto's death, a small shrine began on the lower walkway of Mermaid's Quay in Cardiff, where Ianto's tourist shop was set. The shrine was then advertised by the Save Ianto Jones campaign, which allowed it to grow bigger and bigger as more fans attended the site and left gifts. Some fans offered to print and attach material to the shrine that other fans wanted to add, but couldn't make it to the physical shrine itself. In 2010, Gareth David-Lloyd (the actor for Ianto) attended the shrine himself, and over the years other actors such as John Barrowman also made the pilgrimage.

Aftermath

Ianto was not resurrected in the new Torchwood series, and the project died in late 2010. However, producers of associated Torchwood material such as magazines and audiobooks capitalized on Ianto's death, and produced reams of Ianto-themed content. This co-opting of fannish grief did not sit right with some fans, and some commented that the BBC seemed to be openly disparaging Ianto fans whilst also attempting to benefit financially from their labour. [16]

A later Torchwood audiobook resurrected Ianto and gave him a better death, which gave fans some much needed closure.

References

  1. Labours Of Love: Affect, Fan Labour, And The Monetization Of Fandom by Jennifer Spence, on the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository, 2203, in 2014
  2. Tarnished Heroes, Charming Villains and Modern Monsters: Science Fiction in Shades of Gray on 21st Century Television by Lynette Porter, page 69, published by McFarland, in 2014
  3. Manifesto, by Save Ianto Jones, accessed on February 12th 2019
  4. cloudillusion on LiveJournal, 25 August 2009
  5. Coffee Boy on JustGiving, archived October 13th, 2012
  6. Ianto Jones for Children in Need on LiveJournal, accessed February 10th, 2019.
  7. What have you done for Ianto lately? by dvcorvis to the BBC and BBC America, posted on LiveJournal on May 23rd 2010
  8. Torchwood: Children of Earth: The Aftermath by Kirsty Walker for EndOfShow, on June 12th, 2009
  9. Is Torchwood Homophobic? Fans Debate by Charlie Jane Anders for io9, on 17th July, 2009.
  10. 100,000 Torchwood fans campaign to bring back Ianto for the South Wales Argus, on 21 December, 2009
  11. Coffee: Why and how to send it to the BBC by chryssalys on the Save Ianto Jones LiveJournal, posted January 19th 2010.
  12. We Asked Russell T. Davies Our Most Pressing Doctor Who Question by Charlie Jane Anders for io9, on 28th July 2009
  13. Fans campaign for return of Ianto after Torchwood death by David Bentley for the Coventry Telegraph, on July 31st, 2009
  14. The Save Coffee Boy News Bulletin and Code of Conduct by a_silver_story on LiveJournal, posted on 11th July, 2009
  15. Resurrection Coffee Update by Chryssalys on LiveJournal, posted Jun 15 2010
  16. Labours Of Love: Affect, Fan Labour, And The Monetization Of Fandom by Jennifer Spence, on the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository, 2203, in 2014
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