1. JACK BAUER IS ALIVE
The last time we saw Jack was through the lens of a drone as he fled the CIA, Russia’s FSB and Islamic terrorists. But Jack tends to survive. “It would be too much of a bummer to end series eight with Jack’s death,” says Kiefer Sutherland. “Plus we were leaving it open for the movie that didn’t happen…”
2. AND HE’S ON THE RUN
“He’s been out of the United States since the end of season eight,” says Sutherland. “He escaped to Eastern Europe, where he’s been for four-and-a-half years and has resurfaced because of the circumstances of the day. And that’s where we start. We start running…”
3. 24 IS NO LONGER 24
This series is 12 episodes rather than 24, and thus it’s not shown in “real time”. That’s good for Jack because it means he will finally get to go to the loo off camera. Obviously it’s set in London and not LA. And it’s not called season nine – it’s Live Another Day.
4. JACK ISN’T 007
That’s Die Another Day.
5. BUT HE’S A HAUNTED MAN
The series opens with a CIA team coordinating an attempt to assassinate an unknown target in London. That target turns out to be Jack…
6. JACK’S IN LONDON
“I can’t go into it at length,” says Sutherland, “but Jack’s going to have another sh***y day.”
7. BOMBS IN NUMBER 10?
Maybe, maybe not… there could be a terrorist threat against London, or the real target could be US President James Heller, who was Bauer’s mentor/nemesis during seasons four, five and six.
8. STEPHEN FRY IS THE PM!
Yes, the QI host plays Alastair Davies, an old friend of President Heller who is welcoming his US counterpart on a state visit.
9. JUST GOOD FRIENDS
“The relationship between President and Prime Minster gets deeply strained,” says Sutherland, “yet the historical significance of the partnership has to be maintained.”
10. CHLOE IS BACK
Yes, you read that right. Analyst Chloe O’Brian, played by Mary Lynn Rajskub, was arrested after helping Jack escape: “My character has become anti-government as a result,” she explains. Now she’s working for Adrian Cross – a hacker and leader of the free information movement. Think Edward Snowden…
11. NEW LOOK JACK
“I was watching old episodes to get ready,” says Sutherland. “Season one he was just this nice, happy guy. Second year, you see empty bottles on the floor and it goes downhill from there. But he still had his job. This year he’s estranged from his family, estranged from his country and has been hiding for four years. He’s annoyed…”
12. SAME OLD JACK
“Jack doesn’t trust anybody,” says Sutherland. “He’s a guy with nothing to lose, highly p****d off, lonely and he’s not drinking.”
13. JACK IS BUFF
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” boasts the 47-year-old Sutherland. “I’ve been training every day for months for this – more running, fewer weights.”
14. MORE PLOT PLEASE
“It’s four years since the end of season eight, so how is that hole in the plot explained? “We give Jack a bit of exposition, but only at the right moments,” says Sutherland.
15. NEWBIES WELCOME
“It’s our task to make the narrative clear to people who are watching for the first time,” says executive producer Howard Gordon. “Those who have been with us for the last eight seasons are rewarded for their knowledge, but it’s not a requirement.”
16. GAME OF THRONES
There are familiar faces to look out for – Game of Thrones star Michelle Fairley plays Margot, British widow of a notorious terrorist.
17. IT’S ALL ABOUT DRONES
“We like a debate in 24 – we had 9/11, torture, human rights violations, China spying on the US,” says Sutherland. “It’s the same thing with drones – are they saving military lives or killing too many civilians?”
18. BUT IT’S NOT POLITICAL
“Over the years Jack has been politicised but really he’s this apolitical character,” says Howard Gordon. “It’s become a more complex world than it was when we began 24.”
19. IT’S NOT HOMELAND
Howard Gordon helmed award-winning Homeland, but he says, “Jack and Chloe’s relationship is nothing like Carrie and Brodie…”
20. IT’S PERSONAL
“I was frankly disappointed by the ratings for the final season of 24,” Gordon shrugs. “I feel like it was under-appreciated.”
21. THIS ISN’T THE MOVIE
A film version of 24 has been mooted for year, but … “There’s always an opportunity to do a film,” says Sutherland, “But Howard came up with this story for a 12-episode run, but if this ends up rebooting the show or causing a film to be made, so be it…”
22. BANGS FOR YOUR BUCKS
“We blow up cars, double-decker buses and things like that,” Sutherland enthuses. “We snarled up traffic pretty good. I’m really sorry about that. London is exotic to us.”
23. JACK’S UNSTOPPABLE
“I have actor friends who say they don’t know how I can play the same character for years,” says Sutherland. “But I get to change the smallest details of character. Some guy calling me Jack in the street is a small price.”
24. A WINNING FORMULA
We’re not going to change the show and have Jack learn to play violin,” says Sutherland.
The first two episodes of 24: Live Another Day are on tonight at 1:00am on Sky Atlantic.