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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 11:39 GMT
No third series of 24 on BBC Two
Kiefer Sutherland
Kiefer Sutherland stars as Jack Bauer in thriller 24
Negotiations to show the third series of cult US thriller 24 on BBC Two have broken down, opening the way for other UK broadcasters to bid for the show.

"We know viewers will be disappointed that the BBC and Fox have not been able to agree a deal over the rights to the third series," said a BBC spokeswoman.

"After long negotiations we were unable to agree scheduling and timescales that meet the needs of both parties."

US ratings for the real-time show have been down on previous seasons.

Cult following

Unfolding in real time over the course of 24 hours, the show stars Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, an agent with the US government's Counter Terrorist Unit, or CTU.

The second series, which finished its UK run in August, saw Bauer save Los Angeles from a nuclear bomb.

Though ratings in the UK have never been high, the show has accrued a dedicated cult following.

Messages on the BBC's 24 website have been speculating for months that the third series would be shown on Five, though a spokeswoman for the channel said it had no plans to bid for it "at the moment".

Sky One and Channel Four are other potential bidders.

In the third series, set three years after the second, Bauer has to save Los Angeles from a deadly virus which could be unleashed on the city.

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