By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News
"Save the cheerleader, save the world".
It is the catchphrase which has become synonymous with Heroes, the futuristic American TV drama uniting a group of characters with special powers who are trying to prevent a chain of events from causing catastrophe in New York.
The first series of the show has already been screened by US broadcaster NBC and the Sci-Fi Channel in the UK, with terrestrial viewers in Britain now being given the chance to see it on BBC Two.
Eleven months after its debut, it has already been nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe awards and received the Television Critics Association's prize for best drama.
Viewers have been wooed by a politician who can fly, a mind-reading policeman, a time-bending office worker and the aforementioned cheerleader, who can regenerate and heals whenever she becomes injured.
"There's something that they are connected to which is bigger than themselves, and they do not necessarily know what it is," explains Jack Coleman, who plays Mr Bennet, a mysterious character who seems to know more about these powers than he lets on.
"Some people embrace their abilities and some people deny them. What's really interesting about it is that it's not the superhero - it's the normal person.
"The abilities in many cases are more afflictions than special talents. The audience knows that somehow they all have to come together, which gives them something to look forward to as they wait for it to happen."
The show has been a rating success on both sides of the Atlantic
The success of the programme - and international sales taking the show to broadcasters around the world - was not a surprise to its executive producer, Dennis Hammer.
He describes having "an odd premonition" that Heroes would be "the biggest thing in a long time".
But some cast members, on a visit to London and other European cities during a break in the filming of series two, admit they were a little more cautious at first.
"You always hope it's going to be huge, but there are so many factors outside of what we contribute that have to come together to make it a hit," says Adrian Pasdar, who plays the "flying" politician Nathan Petrelli.
His on-screen brother Peter, played by Milo Ventimgilia, cites the "amazing" scripts and a "talented group of actors and production team" for its success.
"For us to be sitting in an amazing building in London a year after the show started is very surreal," he says during a press conference on the 39th floor of the Swiss Re "gherkin" building in the City.
Special effects are also an integral part of the production process, especially for cheerleader Claire Bennet, played by Hayden Panettiere.
Hayden Panettiere, who has just turned 18, stars as Claire Bennet
Claire can bounce back almost immediately from any injury and is the focus of considerable attention as the Heroes try to prevent the impending catastrophe.
One scene early in the first series sees her falling from a great height, before regenerating in front of a horrified, then staggered, friend.
Filming this stunt in particular was "really, really cool", despite the dangers involved, Panettiere says.
"We did it all in one shot. I had my stunt double up on the rig, ready to fall.
"The camera followed me up on the stairs and then it's her who falls, but actually she was really falling on a crane. It was very intense but we pulled it off."
Second series secrets
For season two, fans are promised storylines featuring more Heroes from outside the US. One teaser scene at the end of the first series suggests some of the action will happen in a non-American location with great significance to one character in particular.
The cast are careful to avoid revealing any plot details, however.
"We're only as strong as the secrets that we keep as a family, understanding that suspense is going to be built. To give anything away would do it a disservice and an injustice," stresses Ventimigilia.
Ventimiglia previously had roles in Rocky Balboa and Gilmore Girls
BBC Two has already signed up the second series for its first UK run, and NBC clearly has high hopes for the drama.
"It says in our contracts that we have to be there for six seasons if it does continue for six seasons, but we'll only find out what is happening to the show every year," Panettiere says.
But the cast are told so little that "they have no idea if there's a third season" at this stage, she adds.
And as for individual Heroes being killed off? Ventimiglia says this is "something we all accept" as a possibility.
"We have these characters that have a storyline which needs to service something much wider than the characters themselves.
"When it's time to go, it's time to go. Kicking and screaming isn't going to help."