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Last Updated: Monday, 24 December 2007, 20:20 GMT
Heroes in the thick of it in 2007

By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News
Warning: This story contains plot spoilers

Reality has been partially suspended for this review of the political year, as portrayed in fictional TV series:

Kiefer Sutherland in 24
Jack Bauer was once again trying to prevent devastation in the US in 24
Perhaps the biggest global event of the past 12 months was the utter devastation wreaked on the United States in a series of nuclear explosions in 23 cities.

The prospect of such attacks had been outlined earlier in the latest series of the real-time show 24.

This show exposed terrorists who were planning to detonate five suitcase-bombs across the US, uncovered as a direct result of the work of Los Angeles-based counter-terrorism officers such as Jack Bauer.

But when tens of millions of Americans were killed in the biggest attack of its kind, Jericho documented the incredible struggle of a handful of survivors.

The small town in Kansas which shared the programme's name was spared the effects of the attacks by a geographical quirk.

Cast members from Jericho
The townsfolk of Jericho struggled to come to terms with the attacks
Cut off from the rest of the country following the attacks, confusion reigned as residents struggled to establish the extent of the devastation.

They were forced to turn to violence to defend themselves in the ensuing anarchy, as the skeleton government tried to enforce order and begin a programme of regeneration.

Such was the interest in their plight that viewers berated the CBS network for cancelling the show after only one series, and a further seven episodes will be screened next year as the people of Jericho - and the world - come to terms with their new, post-apocalyptic nation.

Humans flying

By an odd coincidence, Heroes, had predicted a devastating explosion of this type, portraying a Congressional candidate in a fantasy sequence as he dealt with the aftermath of a blast in his home city of New York.

Adrian Pasdar in Heroes
Nathan Petrelli was trying to conceal his super-power in Heroes
But the most eye-opening element of this series was the revelation that a human being had the ability to fly - and not just any person, but this same would-be politician.

Viewers watched as Nathan Petrelli wrestled with his conscience, unwilling to expose his unique ability in case he was derided by political opponents, as well as the electorate.

He was filmed saving his brother Peter from certain death, swooping to his rescue after Peter jumped from a rooftop.

And the first series of this programme ended, it appeared that catastrophe had been averted, if only for the time being.

Hospital hostages

In the UK, senior hospital consultant Harry Harper was elected MP for Holby, as documented by the weekly Casualty show.

Simon MacCorkindale in Casualty
Consultant Harry Harper won votes by trying to save his A&E facility
Mr Harper had put himself forward as an independent Parliamentary candidate in response to the threatened closure of his hospital's accident and emergency unit.

To his surprise, he won the by-election in which he stood.

However, the widower's tangled love life was exposed on the programme, and there was tragedy for him when he and his pregnant mistress Serena Donovan were held hostage during a siege at the hospital.

Ms Donovan was shot by the unstable wife of a patient and she died at the scene, with Mr Harper delivering her unborn child, whom he thought was his - only to learn later that he was not the father.

Finally, the inner workings of Whitehall were exposed once again as The Thick of It spent further time with spin-doctors at the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship.

Foul-mouthed Scottish PR machine Malcolm Tucker was joined by new colleague Jamie, whose surname was suppressed in the name of public decency after he brutally insulted an underling - and computer firm Apple - with an expletive-laden rant.

Peter Capaldi and Paul Higgins in The Thick of It
The Thick of It captured foul-mouthed rants inside Whitehall
All it took was the gentle mocking of Jamie's love of musician Al Jolson by junior policy advisor Ollie Reeder.

But the public was left under no illusion as to Jamie's anger when he ferociously stated that he wished to shove Mr Reeder's iPod into a sensitive part of his anatomy - and would stick some speakers in another.

The department apologised for the spin-doctor's actions after an outcry when the programme was broadcast.

However, both Jamie and Mr Reeder remained in their posts to deal with the unexpectly early resignation of the prime minister, which was not linked to the iPod furore.



SEE ALSO
24 star begins drink-driving term
06 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Reluctant Heroes try to save world
31 Aug 07 |  Entertainment
Fan protest saves US show Jericho
07 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
The clock's ticking on torture
30 Mar 07 |  Magazine
Independent doctor trounces Labour
08 Jun 01 |  Vote2001

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