Hit the road, Jack:
Kiefer Sutherland films special agent Bauer's
explosive scenes as 24 counts down to its final hour
By GEORGINA LITTLEJOHN
Last updated at 4:27 PM on 31st March 2010
So it would be only fitting for the producers of 24 to send special agent Jack Bauer out with a bang as the popular action drama show comes to an end.
And if these pictures are anything to go by, as the eighth and final series draws to a close, it is to be as explosive as its predecessors were.
Out with a bang: Kiefer Sutherland films some of his last scenes for 24 as agent Jack Bauer
In these shots, released today as a teaser for die-hard fans, Jack Bauer, played by actor Kiefer Sutherland, 43, is seen lying on the floor after apparently struggling free from a car crash.
As he slowly gets up to assess the situation, he is suddenly grabbed by a group of armed men in gas masks, who shove a hood over his head and drag him away.
The series, just like the ones before it, will be presented in the semblance of real time and cover 24 hours in the life of agent Bauer, starting at 4pm.
Set in New York a year after the end of series 7, Bauer is now dealing with assassination threats made during a conference about peace between the US President Allison Taylor and President Omar Hassan of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan, which is depicted as a country similar to Iran.
The eighth series started in the US in January with a four-hour two-day premiere and will finish on America's Fox network on May 24. Episodes air on Sky 1 in the UK two weeks after their US broadcast.
Aftermath: Agent Bauer survives the crash and surveys the situation
The end of the long-running series, which has won seven Emmys and two Golden Globes since it began in November 2001, was announced this weekend.
Sutherland, who is not just the star but also an executive producer, said the 24 team had 'always wanted 24 to finish on a high note, so the decision to make the eighth season our last was one we all agreed upon'.
In a statement, he added that playing agent Jack Bauer had been 'the role of a lifetime'.
He added: 'I will never be able to fully express my appreciation to everyone who made it possible. But when all is said and done, it is the loyal worldwide fan base that made it possible for me to have the experience of playing the role of Jack Bauer, and for that I am eternally grateful.'
And he said a ninth series of the show would have been a mistake.
On your knees! Agent Bauer is surrounded by three men in gas masks
Don't say a word: The men pull him to his feet and drag him away as a gun is pointed at him
He said: 'From a creative point, I think Howard [Gordon, executive producer] was feeling that as confident and as strong as he felt about season eight, he was feeling that it was going to be very hard to do [a season nine].
'He and I both felt that the opportunity of making a movie, and doing a two-hour representation of a 24-hour day - which would not be restricted by time - was something that was appealing to he and I both.'
24 is the second-longest spy series in television history, behind The Avengers but in front of Mission: Impossible.
Each episode is supposed to take one hour of real time, but in reality, three minutes are gradually added to the timer during the ad breaks. The last three minutes of air time are used for commercials, station identification, and teaser scenes from the next episode.
It takes ten-and-a-half months to film a season of the show and during shooting, cameras are kept at eye level to make the show more realistic- although Jack is never shown eating, drinking or sleeping.
And cut! Kiefer pauses filming as his outfits and realistic make-up are checked
The show almost didn't get off the ground and Fox only agreed to the second half of the first season being filmed after Sutherland won a Golden Globe in 2002.
But fans can breathe a sigh of relief as it won't be the end of Jack Bauer as there are plans to make a feature film.
Speaking to Daily Variety, Sutherland said: 'I'm very excited about the idea [of a movie]. I'm very excited about the opportunity, and singularly because it's a two-hour representation of a 24-hour day. So for the first time, it will be very feasible in this 24 hours to go from England to Russia, or from China to Japan, depending on where they choose to set it.
'Before on the TV show, the crisis had to come to us, because the best we could do was get across town. And the two times we ever put Jack Bauer in a plane, it just didn't work. So it alleviates a huge hurdle that real time writing presented for us.'
Time out: Kiefer whizzes about on a scooter in between scenes
However, this will probably be his last big screen venture after he was quoted in the Daily Express as saying he is no longer inspired by films.
He said: 'I grew up on films such as One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Urban Cowboy, Terms Of Endearment and Ordinary People, but they don't make those movies anymore. Drama got picked up by television.'
'TV is really the home of the drama. When you look at everything from The West Wing to The Wire, ER to The Sopranos, there's amazing television out there.
'That's why you're seeing a huge influx of very successful actors looking at television for work.'
Contemplative: Kiefer looks deep in thought as he takes a cigarette break