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American dream; When Ianto Jones met his death in the last series of Torchwood, die-hard fans were outraged. But for actor Gareth David-Lloyd, his character's exit has opened new doors, as Rachel Mainwaring discovers.

IF you go down to Cardiff Bay, you'll almost certainly come across a shrine to a certain Mr Ianto Jones. Since his death in Torchwood's third series, Children Of Earth, Ianto fans have left flowers, photos and messages of condolence for the now-deceased love interest of Captain Jack Harkness.

With new flowers and messages arriving daily and an on-line campaign to bring Ianto back, Gareth David-Lloyd, who played him for three years, says he's pleased his character made such a lasting impression.

"I'm obviously going to miss the guys I was working with. It was disappointing to leave but I was happy to go as long as all his background had been explored and explained and I think that's what happened," says Gareth, from Newport.

"We got to see his family life and it was a good exit. It certainly wasn't difficult to build up the emotions as they were running sky high, especially on the last day of filming."

Since leaving the show, Gareth, 28, has been inundated with work. He is currently filming a role in The Bill and has completed on-line projects and short films.

And he's looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Welsh actors Ioan Gruffudd, Matthew Rhys and Owain Yeoman by heading to Hollywood next year.

But for now the actor, who sings with the band Blue Gillespie, is preparing for his debut role in panto, playing Prince Charming at the Preston Guild Hall and Charter Theatre.

He will tread the boards alongside Phoenix Nights star Ted Robbins and Shameless actress Jodie Hamblet and admits he's looking forward to a new challenge.

"This is my first panto. I've never opted to do it before and I'm looking forward to it," he says.

"It'll certainly be a bit different from playing Ianto. We start rehearsals towards the end of November so I'll be spending Christmas up there.

"It's one of those things I was never going to say I'd never do, but it was after talking to John Barrowman about his role in Jack And The Beanstalk in Cardiff a few years ago that got me thinking. He said how much fun he'd so I thought I'd give it a go when they approached me."

Busy Gareth has also just completed a Sherlock Holmes feature with a difference.

"It's a bit of a cat-and-mouse detective series, filmed at the Elstree Studios and also stars Dominic Keating. It will be out on DVD in the New Year," he explains.

"I've also just finished working on a series for the web, written by James Moran and called Girl Number 9. I've also finished a film for Newport Film School called the Casimir Effect. It's a kind of futuristic love story which we're hoping to take to the various film festivals next year. S "I took the role of executive producer and really enjoyed doing different aspects of making a film. I learned a lot by observing while on Torchwood and I'm also hoping to get into screen-writing."

Gareth, who lives with his fiance Gemma in London, is also keen to spread his wings over in LA and is hoping to travel out to America after the panto to try his luck there.

"It's pilot season over there then so I've got agents in LA looking out for things for me and I'd really like to give it a go out there," he says.

And filming a part in ITV cop drama The Bill will stand the former National Youth Theatre student in good stead for gaining the necessary TV experience.

"The Bill has become much more hard-hitting recently, now it's on post-9pm so it's a bit grittier and it's a great part that interested me straight away. I think everyone will enjoy it too. I've never really fancied doing any of the soaps though, although maybe a one-off special would be good to star in.

"Burn Gorman, who played Owen Harper, was fantastic in an EastEnders special when Phil Daniels' character Kevin got killed off and I thought Ian McKellen was brilliant when he starred in Coronation Street but I don't think I'd fancy being in one long-term."

So for now, Gareth is happy preparing for his first stint in panto, planning his trip to LA and remembering his part as Ianto Jones with pride.

"I saw the shrine to Ianto when I went to Cardiff Bay and I can't believe it's still there now. It's very flattering," he admits.

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Gareth David-Lloyd in character as the much lamented Ianto Jones from Torchwood
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 24, 2009
Words:758
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