24 things you need to know about 24
1. It's not a good idea to go out with Jack Bauer. His wife Teri was killed by Jack's former lover Nina Myers during day one; Myers herself was shot by Jack at the end of day three; and another former lover, Claudia Salazar, was also shot during day three, although not by Jack. His most recent girlfriend, Audrey Raines, was last seen in a catatonic state and being cared for by her father at the end of day six.
2. It's also not a very good idea to be related to Jack. In addition to his dead wife and much-kidnapped daughter Kim, Jack has a nephew, Josh, who shares Kim's propensity for trouble; an estranged father, Phillip; and a brother, Graem, who is a criminal mastermind with serious fraternal issues. By the end of season six, Josh has shot Phillip who previously shot Graem who wanted to shoot Jack. It's not easy being a Bauer.
3. Nor is it a good career move to work for the CTU, aka the Counter Terrorism Unit. Over the six seasons of the show, there have been 12 directors or acting directors of CTU.
4. Here's a measure of just how bad job security is at CTU Los Angeles. Other than Jack himself, Agent Aaron Pierce (played by Glenn Morshower) is the only character to have appeared in all six seasons of the show.
5. The only thing more dangerous than working for CTU is being President of the United States. Over six seasons, 24 has seen five presidents (six if you count the unmentioned president in series one when David Palmer is running for office): David Palmer, series two and three, resigned and was later assassinated; John Keeler, series four, was last heard of in a coma following the shooting down of Air Force One; Charles Logan, series four and five, who turned out to be the evil mastermind behind the Palmer assassination; Wayne Palmer, brother of David, was also last heard of in a coma following an attempted assassination; and Noah Daniels (Powers Boothe), Wayne's vice-president, who assumed office halfway through day six. Day seven, which starts in January, will see yet another new president, Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones), although it is not yet known if anything terrible happened to Daniels in the interim.
6. Speaking of presidents, John McCain might not have been elected Commander in Chief earlier this month, but the Republican candidate had a blink-and-you'll-miss it cameo in series five. The senator for Arizona pops up to hand a folder to Audrey.
7. Surprisingly, McCain isn't the strangest cameo on 24. That honour goes to The Office's Stephen Merchant, sitting at a computer screen in the season six opener.
8. The show's longest-running villain is Mandy (Mia Kirshner). The motorbike assassin worked for Ira Gains in the first three episodes of season one, popped up to attempt the assassination of President David Palmer at the end of season two, and turned up working for the bad guys in season four.
9. Among the many things Jack apparently has no time to do during his 24-hour days-from-hell are sleep, eat, brush his teeth, go to the toilet or reload his arsenal of firearms. Kiefer Sutherland eventually addressed this issue, telling 2008's Comic Com convention: "In all fairness, Jon [Cassar, the producer] and I shot a scene where Jack Bauer's going to raid an office and used the bathroom in the lobby and came out 90 seconds later and happier. And they cut it out. Whenever they cut to the White House, Jack is in the bathroom. And not only is he taking a pee, he's having a drink and something to eat."
10. One thing Jack does have time for is a haircut. For the sake of continuity, all the cast members are required to have their hair and/or beards trimmed every five days.
11. Jack also has time for killing people. According to the website www.bauercount.com, Jack's death toll stands at 185 people killed in six, very busy, days.
12. Jack's somewhat cavalier attitude towards killing can be traced to former 24 producer and show runner Joel Surnow, a self-described "right-wing nutjob", who quit the show early this year.
13. If Surnow was unashamedly right-wing in his beliefs, his co-producer and chief writer Howard Gordon prefers to call himself "a left-leaning centrist". It is perhaps no surprise to learn that, with Gordon in sole charge, both 24: Redemption and the new, seventh series will focus on whether or not Jack has to answer for his "torture first, answer questions later" attitude.
14. 24's attitude towards torture has come in for criticism in recent years. The former thirtysomething actor David Clennon turned down a role on the show because of the implied condoning of waterboarding, while the civil liberties group Human Rights First has repeatedly attacked the show.
15. Not everyone feels quite the same way about this issue as Clennon. At least two outspoken critics of the interrogation methods used in the Iraq War, Janeane Garofalo (who's in day seven, alongside fellow new arrival Annie Wersching) and James Cromwell have taken parts on the show. Cromwell, who played Jack's father in season six, recently admitted that while he "didn't regret doing it" he was troubled by Fox's attitude towards criticism of the show, which he described to The Wall Street Journal as: "If you want to deal with torture as reality, deal with the government. They are the ones doing it, we're just making a buck."
16. Fox execs might be clear on the difference between television and reality, but not everyone else is. According to the British lawyer Philippe Sands, Jack Bauer was an inspiration at "brainstorming meetings" between military officials at Guantanamo Bay in September 2002. In an article on Slate.com, Sands claimed that Diane Beaver, the staff judge advocate general who approved 18 controversial new interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, told him Bauer "gave people lots of ideas".
17. It's not just military officials who get confused about fiction and reality. US Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia has used Jack as an example of the necessity of torture to save people's lives, arguing that "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles, he saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so."
18. A jury might, however, convict him if they considered that said terrorist attacks on Los Angeles are largely down to personal vendettas against Jack rather than any larger anti-American plan. Days one, three, five and six all revolve around plots driven by a personal dislike of Jack Bauer. It's entirely possible that these villains really hate Jack's ability to get all the way across Los Angeles in 10 minutes flat.
19. 24's ticking digital clock and multiple timeline split screens have been frequently spoofed, most notably in the Simpsons episode "24 Minutes", where Lisa and Bart join forces to stop a bake sale being ruined, and in South Park's "The Snuke", in which Eric Cartman assumes the Jack Bauer role, interrogating the only Muslim at South Park elementary school.
20. In season two, Kiefer Sutherland was required to whisper something into Nina Myers's ear. In script and rehearsals the line, which is never heard by viewers, was: "I will hunt you down for the rest of your life." To get a shocked response from actress Sarah Clarke, Sutherland said: "Sarah, I love you, I wish you hadn't married Xander (Berkeley, who played George Mason on the show) so we could be together." It worked.
21. Kim Bauer's propensity for running into trouble is so great that the internet has named a TV cliché after her. According to tvtropes.org, to be a "Kimberly", is to be "a character so idiotic that you really start to hope that he or she dies even though he or she is ostensibly a protagonist".
22. In season five, Debbie Warner's mobile phone displayed a valid California phone number, which if you dialled it supposedly connected you to CTU. The number received more than 80,000 phone calls in the first week after it appeared.
23. The new series, day seven, will see the resurrection of former CTU director and close friend of Bauer, Tony Almeida. As Almeida was last seen being wheeled out in a bodybag following a lethal injection in series five, it is uncertain both how this miraculous recovery came about and why no one in CTU mentioned he was alive in series six.
24. 24: Redemption will feature new characters played by Gil Bellows and Robert Carlyle.
Sarah Jane Hughes
'24: Redemption' is on Sky1 and Sky HD on Monday at 10pm