HE learned his acting craft in Gwent but now Gareth David-Lloyd's talents are going intergalactic.

Gareth, 25, from Bettws, has landed the role of a lifetime a major part in the new Dr Who spin-off series Torchwood.

He is to play Ianto, the receptionist at the Cardiff branch of Torchwood a government agency searching for alien technology which has fallen to Earth.

He will be filming for six months on the show, which is set in modern-day Cardiff. This is the first major role for the Newport actor, who went to Bettws Comprehensive and Coleg Gwent, Cross Keys.

"I'm really excited," he said. "This is going to be different to anything else I've done before."

It was at Monnow Junior School in Bettws that Gareth had his first acting role playing a robot in the school play. He then had acting lessons at Risca Leisure Centre before joining the Dolman Youth Theatre and Gwent Young People's Theatre, where Argus reviewers marked him out as a star of the future.

He moved to London to pursue his career three years ago, with roles in Absolute Power, with Stephen Fry, and a BBC2 documentary drama on the life of Beethoven.

But Gareth is pleased his new role will be based in Cardiff.

"I can't wait to move back to South Wales, people are just much friendlier," he said.

"London was getting a bit fast for me."

He was encouraged in acting by his aunt, 80-year-old Doris Leaves, with whom he lived on Allt-yr-yn Crescent from the age of nine.

Mrs Leaves said: "He got out of breath when he played football so I told him he needed a hobby. It has all sprung from there really."

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, now Lord Kinnock, became a fan after seeing Gareth performing at Monmouth Castle. When Gareth decided to pursue a career in acting Lord Kinnock sent £250 to help him on his way.

Filming started on Torchwood last month and Gareth will be on set from May 24.

His character will be introduced with a small part in the first episode, before featuring in all 13-parts of the drama series.

Torchwood will premiere on BBC3 in the autumn and it is then expected to be shown on BBC1.

The series will star John Barrowman as Captain Jack, a character from the last series of Dr Who.

But despite the links between the two shows Torchwood is a completely new drama aimed at an adult post-watershed audience, by Doctor Who writer Russel T Davies.

John Barrowman describes it as a "dark, wild and sexy roller-coaster ride".

Gareth says there will be plenty of surprises for Doctor Who fans in the series.

He said: "I can't say too much but the scripts look really good. I can't wait to get started."