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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
New day dawns for drama 24
Senator David Palmer, played by Dennis Haysbert
Dennis Haysbert: "Most intense hour on TV"
Tense TV drama 24 - with one episode for every hour in one day - has become one of the year's big TV hits.

BBC News Online passed the time with two of its stars, Dennis Haysbert and Leslie Hope.

If President George Bush was up against Senator David Palmer in a United States presidential race, there would be no contest.

The man who plays the tough, embattled senator, actor Dennis Haysbert, thinks so, anyway.

Haysbert says his character would have a good chance of winning, given the spectacular popularity he and the show has enjoyed in its first series, which has just finished in the US and is coming to a climax in the UK.

Teri Bauer, played by Leslie Hope
Teri Bauer, played by Leslie Hope, was hunted by assassins
So successful has it been that filming for a second series - using the same techniques that see one hour of a day per "real time" episode - begins at the end of July.

Set a year or so in the future, there is frenzied speculation about who will be in it, and what will happen to the central figure, government agent Jack Bauer - played by Kiefer Sutherland - as well as the other characters.

Will we be seeing President Palmer in the future?

"That sure sounds good, doesn't it?" Haysbert says.

Millions of fans around the world have been hooked by the first series, which saw Bauer try to stop an assassination attempt on Senator Palmer's life as well as keep his wife and daughter safe, who were also being hunted.

It is billed as the worst day of Jack Bauer's life - but is not that good for wife Teri, played by Leslie Hope, who is kidnapped, raped and shot at before being involved in a car accident and losing her memory.

Rumours

US viewers will already know whether the assassins finally caught up with Teri - but Hope refuses to spoil the surprise for everyone else by telling us whether she will be returning for the second series.

"There's all sorts of rumours circulating about that. You just have to watch the end, see what happens," she says.

Even when they were filming the first series, the actors were never told what would happen to the characters beyond the episode they were shooting - and, like the viewers, were constantly surprised by the twists that the storyline took, Hope says.

Teri Bauer, played by Leslie Hope, with screen daughter Kim, played by Elisha Cuthbert, and husband Jack, played by Kiefer Sutherland
The Bauer family had a very bad day
"There was always something different that they were cooking up," she says.

"We were constantly being inspired and provoked and intrigued about what was going to happen next. It was a great ride all the way through," she adds.

Haysbert said that tactic made the show more realistic because actors were forced to concentrate on their character's current predicament and not allow for what would happen next.

"You get to play the truth of the moment - even knowing that the very next moment, all the truth that you had thought you had played to could turn out to be a lie."

It all makes for the "most intense hour on television," Haysbert says.

"I think [viewers] like being tested and treated to a bit of fun and suspense, which I think was sadly lacking in television."

Integrity

Haysbert also says he hopes other writers and producers will take notice of Senator Palmer and start creating more complex characters for black actors, whose roles he says are often limited.

"Hopefully having roles like this will break down those walls, those doors, and say 'let's broaden this up a little bit, let's bring some integrity to some of these characters'," he says.

Hope says 24 should have a similar effect for female roles by showing the industry that breaking the mould can win viewers.


I don't know how they're going to do it, but surely they're going to do it again

Leslie Hope on the new series
"I felt that the basis of the character was not that far from myself - in mid-30s, I have a child in real life. To me, it just read as real.

"I wasn't a super-hero. I wasn't all of a sudden some kind of ju-jitsu expert, I was pretty much a regular person who was fighting for her life and her daughter's life."

It was a far cry from the traditional TV wife who waits at home for her husband and is unflinchingly loyal to her husband, she says.

"During the first week or two of shooting, Kiefer and I were sitting around having a cigarette or something, and he said to me 'how do you feel, how's the job, how are you doing?'," she says.

Fate

"I said to him, 'it's the best job I've ever had', and he said 'me too'."

Despite being quoted in the press as saying she was worried about the fate of the second series because new cast members and directors were being brought in, she says she is sure the writers will come up with the goods again.

"I don't know how they're going to do it, but surely they're going to do it again because they did such a good job last season," she says.

"Although it can't help but be different, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing."

See also:

28 Jun 02 | Entertainment
07 Nov 01 | Entertainment
09 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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