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Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008
Sutherland denies 24 helped Obama

By Iain Mackenzie
Newsbeat US reporter

Kiefer Sutherland in 24: Redemption

Kiefer Sutherland, star of 24, has rubbished claims that the series' depiction of a black president paved the way for the election of Barack Obama.

Actor Dennis Haysbert, who played President David Palmer in five seasons of 24, had previously claimed that his character did contribute to Obama's success.

But Kiefer Sutherland doesn't agree.

"You don't honestly believe that our show helped get the first African American into the White House do you?" he asked Newsbeat.

"All we simply did is look to the future."

In an interview with TV Guide magazine in January 2008, Dennis Haysbert said: "As far as the public is concerned, it did open up their minds and their hearts a little bit to the notion that if the right man came along that a black man could be president of the United States."

However, his co-star Sutherland believes it is something that would have happened anyway.

"You have a huge African American population and it was just a matter of time before they were represented politically by a president."

He added: "We have a female president in season seven. You have a 52% population of women and we can clearly see it is just a matter of time before we have a female president."

24 in Africa

Kiefer Sutherland was speaking at the launch of 24: Redemption, a feature-length episode of the show which bridges the gap between season six and the forthcoming season seven.

Robert Carlyle and Kiefer Sutherland
24: Redemption sees Jack Bauer caught up in a military coup

Set in a fictional African country, it finds Sutherland's character Jack Bauer caught up in a military coup.

On the run from the US government, Bauer teams up with old friend Carl Benton, played by Robert Carlyle.

The pair try to save a group of school pupils from being recruited as child soldiers.

US television network Fox commissioned the episode after a strike by Hollywood screenwriters delayed production of season seven.

According to Sutherland, who is also an executive producer, the extra time allowed them to improve the show.

"I think season seven is arguably the best work we have done. But if we had been under the normal schedule we would have been dead, we would have been in a lot of trouble."

Referring to the writers' notorious practice of making up and modifying plotlines while the show is in production, he said: "There has been a lot of talk about maybe we shouldn't fly by the seat of our pants so much and we might want to have a clearer idea about where we are going."

New plotlines

24: Redemption retains the show's characteristic real-time effect, with the action unfolding over a two-hour period.

As well as Robert Carlyle, Hollywood veteran John Voight also features in the episode.

I was a fan of the show when it first started and I saw Kiefer and thought this guy is doing great work
John Voight

He said: "I was a fan of the show when it first started and I saw Kiefer and thought this guy is doing great work, and I know his dad.

"They came to me this year and asked if I want to be part of it. I thought maybe it's meant to be. Maybe I'll do a scene with Kiefer and that will close the circle."

Few details are known about the forthcoming season, which is due to begin screening in January.

Teaser trailers show armed soldiers infiltrating the White House.

They also feature a jumbo jet, apparently hijacked, being targeted at a building.

Another plotline causing a stir among fans is the return of Jack Bauer's former colleague Tony Almeida, played by Carlos Bernard.

Series favourite Almeida was thought to have died during season five.

24: Redemption screens on Sky 1 on Monday 24 November. It is released on DVD on 1 December.

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