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Watching episode 3, "The Unquiet Dead" of Series 1 of the new Doctor Who, it seemed the parlor maid, Gwyneth, was familiar. A quick Google revealed the actress as Eve Myles, also known for playing Gwen on Torchwood.

This seemed too much of a coincidence to me. Two characters with similar names (Gwen and Gwyneth) who both grew up in Cardiff on top of the (in)famous rift, both played by the same actress across two closely related shows.

Google fuelled research has found only this speculation:

there is a lot of fan speculation that Gwyneth goes through the rift and reappears in present time, and is in fact the same person as "Gwen" in Torchwood.

I'm not convinced, as Gwyneth clearly has telepathic (or similar) capabilities, never demonstrated by Gwen.

Are these characters actually (in-show) related to each other, or is this just a coincidence?

I've seen most episodes of both Dr Who and Torchwood, but haven't seen any of the "Confidentials"; I don't recall seeing Gwen ever talk about her family history - might be a better testimony about my fallible memory than anything else.

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Nice to see someone committed to a universe enough to catch these things. –  Solemnity Jan 5 '13 at 7:26
    
I was just re-watching Season 1 of Doctor Who, and noticed the same thing... Thanks for asking! –  Flimzy Sep 4 '13 at 19:52
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4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

According to canon, they are not related at all.

This is address specifically at the end of "Journey's End" when The Doctor and Rose first see Gwen Cooper on the TARDIS screen at Torchwood. Both of them recognize her, since she looks exactly like Gwyneth. He asks her if she is from Cardiff, and when she says yes, he explains to Rose that it is an effect of "spatial genetic multiplicity".

According to Russell T Davies, this is not a blood relationship; it is an effect of the Time Rift causing physical features to echo and repeat across the space/time area around the Rift.

Most of this is explained on the BBC site: "Fact File" for Journey's End.

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It would be great if there's a story built around that, but for now- not likely.

Many long-running TV shows have been known (coughtrek) to reuse actors, especially science-fiction and procedural ones (Law & Order apparently). I can theorize that the nature of these shows makes it more important that actors that are known to work in the show already in a manner that doesn't distract from the immersion that the genre requires be used. Likely RTD just liked her.

That being said- after the fact, they did half-heartedly retcon the 'similarities'. This is a link that mentions it, also with Russell T. Davies denying a connection previous to the throw-away Rift explanation.

Incidentally, if you looked farther down her imdb profile, she also played a 'Gwen' in an Eastenders movie.

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"Gwen's family was established in Cardiff by the 19th century. The Tenth Doctor believed that this, coupled with the influence of the space-time rift in Cardiff, might explain her physical resemblance to a funeral home employee named Gwyneth, who died on 24 December 1869 in one of the earliest known effects involving the rift. (TV: Journey's End, The Unquiet Dead)" Via http://tardis.wikia.com

'Keep It In The Family Eve Myles, who plays Gwen Cooper in Torchwood, also played Gwyneth in series one episode The Unquiet Dead. The Doctor comments on spacial genetic multiplication when he asks her about her family coming from Cardiff. According to Russell T Davies, "It's not familial as we understand it. There's no blood tie. Spatial genetic multiplicity means an echo and repetition of physical traits across a Time Rift."' Via www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/s4/episodes/?episode=s4_13&action=factfile

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Welcome to Science Fiction and Fantasy! Whilst this is a plausible answer, the wiki page you linked to doesn't give a proper source. When you get the chance, could you please look for a more credible source to back this up? –  Pureferret Jan 5 '13 at 15:44
    
Thanks for adding more information user11735, did you know you can add this to the answer using the edit button? Thanks! –  Pureferret Jan 6 '13 at 10:26
    
@Pureferret Thank you for the tip! –  Toider Jan 7 '13 at 0:55
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Doctor Who has a history of bringing back someone used for an episode to become a regular or companion.

Karen Gillan was Amy Pond in Doctor Who but first a Soothsayer in the Fires of Pompeli. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Gillan#cite_note-dm2-6

Freema Agyeman was of course Martha Jones on Doctor Who and Torchwood but also seen previously on Doctor Who as well as Adeola Oshodi (a scientist at Torchwood One) in the Rise of the Cybermen / Age of Steel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adeola_Oshodi#Adeola_Oshodi

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Note that Freema's two characters, at least, were cousins. –  Michael Edenfield Jan 5 '13 at 16:21
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