BBC F1’s new commentary team and in HD

The excellent BBC F1 coverage has been improved and tweaked further with a new commentary line-up for both the television and radio coverage for 2011.

On the television side, Martin Brundle will take over the lead commentator role over the lacklustre Jonathan Legard. Joining Martin is his old-pal David Coulthard. It will be fascinating how the pair will get on explaining the on-track action this season.

As for Radio 5 Live, the excellent David Croft and Anthony Davidson double-act will remain but will be joined by a new pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham. The previous pit-lane reporter Holly Samos left last season to spend more time with her family. It’s going to be interesting how Natalie will fit in with Crofty and Little Ant.

And yet the biggest news is High Definition. Finally, Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Management (FOM) have seen the full picture – pardon the pun – and has adopted the HD format for this year’s Formula One World Championship.

Both the BBC1 HD and BBC HD channels will display the High Definition coverage and it will definitely make a big difference in enjoying the racing action!

Roll on the first race at Bahrain on March 13th!

Time’s up: Jack Bauer is no more

Last night on Sky1 was the final episode of Day 8 and after nine years in the life of CTU agent Jack Bauer, the hit real-time drama has come to an end.

It has been an emotional ride with thrills and spills over the course of 192 episodes/hours. From losing his wife Teri in season one plus the constant kidnapping of daughter Kim, not forgetting losing his colleagues one-by-one in the following seasons, it’s been a tough life for Kiefer Sutherland’s character in 24.

Guardian writer Charlie Brooker has posted his view on the show and what the creators can do with a plausible idea of a spin-off!

Jack Bauer is no more

So. Farewell then, Jack Bauer. CTU agent and terrorist-botherer extraordinaire. You thwarted countless unspeakable plots. Apart from the ones perpetrated by your own writers. In those you were sadly complicit. Now your time has finally ended. But even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. Unless it’s using the 24-hour format. Which yours, ironically, didn’t.

Apologies to EJ Thribb. Anyway, that’s enough poetry for one column. By the time you read this Bauer will be dead. Well, not dead exactly, but gone from our screens. The former hit series 24 has ground to a halt due to public indifference; the final episode, broadcast on Sky One this evening, culminated in surprisingly low-key fashion. Jack said goodbye to Chloe and shuffled off into the sunset, limping a bit because he was moderately wounded (“moderately wounded” by his standards, at any rate: anything less than a full lung dangling out of his chest cavity is a minor inconvenience to Bauer). He now exists only in the minds of fans and the creative team planning his first spinoff movie, which presumably will last precisely 240 minutes if there’s to be any notional continuity at all.

It’s a fairly inauspicious end to a series that, let’s not forget, was groundbreaking when it first appeared, back in 2001 when season-long story arcs were still a rarity rather than the norm, and the “real time” concept was an arresting gimmick. Furthermore, its sheer brutality was shocking. Not many hit series end their inaugural season with the hero cradling the corpse of his pregnant wife. It certainly didn’t work for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The audience choked on its Ribena. But 24 pulled it off. Which made it all the more disappointing that, having established an exciting new form, the show proceeded to repeat itself ad nauseum, until it all became so predictable that Jack was visibly yawning during some of the later torture scenes, and sometimes had to splash himself in the face with cold blood just to stay awake.

The real-time format was partly to blame, of course: it eventually turned the series into little more than a string of preposterous deadlines. Sometimes it felt like watching an adaptation of a paperback spy thriller as recounted by a six-year-old boy, who’s regurgitated a rough storyline from memory in one breathless sentence: “And then Jack stops the bomb but the man runs away so Jack chases him in a car but the car crashes into the sea and then a shark comes to eat Jack but Jack kills the shark with a sword and then Jack builds a helicopter out of some reeds and a coathanger and then Jack flies the helicopter into the terrorist’s head THE END.”

Come to think of it, rather than cancelling the series, Fox should be incredibly bold and recommission it using that system for next year: get a six-year-old boy to recount the plot of season one from memory, and then force everyone involved to shoot a word-for-word re-enactment of whatever he says, no matter how absurd. Don’t know about you, but I’d definitely tune in to watch Jack on the trail of a man with funny arms who stole his Lego. In episode four he rides a horse up the side of a building. In episode nine he climbs inside a robot and blows up everyone in the war. In episode 12 he eats some spaghetti and hides from a giant with a purple beard. It is, without question, the finest television series ever made.

Failing that, the “ticking clock” format is too good to leave alone. If CSI and NCIS can spin themselves off into independent mutations, why shouldn’t 24? How about a Sex and the City/24 hybrid in which Samantha has 24 hours to conceive? With anyone – man or beast? Potentially pornographic. OK, more sensibly: what about a version of 24 set during the second world war? Or in the middle of a Towering Inferno-style disaster? Or by a wall somewhere in or near Plymouth? Admittedly, that last concept needs work.

Best of all, they could create the ultimate mind-mangling edition by setting the whole thing 20 years in the future. Halfway through the series, a group of futuristic terrorists (white hair, silver bodysuits) set off a time-reversing pulse-bomb that makes events unfold in reverse. Fiendishly, they detonate it on the last Sunday in October, at the precise moment when the clocks go forward an hour. In the immediate aftermath, 10 members of Jack Bauer Jr’s team die of confusion trying to synchronise watches. It’s down to Jack Jr himself to save the day, but since the detonation of the timebomb moves further away with each passing second, his task gets harder and harder, and the series carries on way beyond its allotted 24 episodes, all the way back through the passage of time until it reaches the big bang, at which point it is revealed that the universe itself was created by a similar explosion – an explosion Jack’s great great great great great great great great forefather somehow manages to thwart, thereby cancelling the formation of time and space itself.

“The following takes place between now and never o’ clock.” Come on. It’s got a ring to it.

Source: The Guardian

From Heroes to zeroes

The once-popular television drama Heroes has been officially cancelled. After four seasons the NBC drama has been axed and as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the American television network made the decision following disappointing ratings and high production costs.

It’s official. NBC has cancelled “Heroes.”

The network seriously mulled bringing back “Heroes” for a shortened final season to wrap up the serialized show.

In the end, given the fairly high cost of the drama, the show’s consistently declining ratings and the number of new hour-longs coming to NBC next season, the network decided the UMS-produced series wasn’t worth an additional season. Sources say the network is still leaving the door open to conclude the show with a special or movie.

The show has long had a rocky relationship with its fans. Out of the gate, “Heroes” was a big hit for the network – an ethnically diverse big-concept ensemble that performed well overseas. It was NBC’s “Lost.”

But the show’s writers struggled to keep the show’s twisting narrative on track. Characters were killed off and resurrected with regularity. Narrative threads were started, then abandoned. Unlike “Lost,” there didn’t seem to be series-long central questions driving the show that needed to be resolved with a final season.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

So sad to hear it’s all over but I must admit the writers were to blame. The lack of consistency in the character development and story-telling made the show frustrating to watch. A real shame, as I was a fan when it was first premiered back in 2006 to a staggering number of television audience.

But after the first season, the hype surrounding the next season made it difficult to retain that high standards and the writers strike of 2007-08 didn’t help in making season two a major disappointment. Not surprisingly, the audience lost patience and switched off in there millions.

Heroes dragged on for two further seasons but by then, the show’s twisting narrative had too many loose ends and it was difficult to care much with the characters.

Sorry Claire, you special ability to heal hasn’t work to save the show! And so ends Heroes.

Now my attention focuses on the excellent Mad Men, Breaking Bad and True Blood. Proper classy television dramas!

Jack Bauer’s time is up as 24 ends

American television network Fox has confirmed that after eight seasons, 24 will air its series finale this year.

Emmy-award winning actor Kiefer Sutherland has commented that even though the news that 24 will not continue into Day 9, a movie version of the popular real-time drama is the next step to continue the franchise.

Still, it is very sad to hear that one of my favourite television drama is coming to an end. The acting and story-telling in the last eight years have been hit and miss to be honest, but the concept of real-time and split-screen action was a masterstroke in setting the overall feel of this show. We shall see the fate of CTU and Jack Bauer at the end of the current season and I look forward to the movie with great enthusiasm.

Anyway, read the full extract of the story in full below, as taken from Hollywood Insider:

Kiefer Sutherland told that producing a ninth season for another network like NBC was not an option because he and executive producer Howard Gordon were ready to call it quits.

“The writers are producing the equivalent of 12 films a year, which is unheard of, and Howard felt to do a ninth would be potentially damaging,” said Sutherland. “We both felt strongly that there has been a demand and an interest in a 24 film, which would be a two-hour representation of a 24-hour day, so we felt it was time to move in that direction.”

Sutherland promised the series finale would tee up the 24 movie that’s in the works at 20th Century Fox. Billy Ray (State of Play) is writing the screenplay. “We wanted to create a definitive end for Jack Bauer,” explains Sutherland. “Since we do have the intention to make the feature film, it would lead into that and certainly set that up.

“Something we’ve dealt with in the series is how the crisis always has to come to us because we don’t have time to move anywhere in a real time world,” he continued. “In a two-hour (movie) representation of the 24 world, planes, trains, and automobiles all of a sudden become a factor because you are not required to go scene by scene in real time. That’s something I can say I am very excited about.”

As for the actual series finale, Gordon told that he and Sutherland considered everything from a happy to a tragic ending for Jack Bauer and ended up with episodes that take some risks: “We go to a very definitive, very complex place.”

Source: The Hollywood Insider

Jack Bauer heading to the big screen?

After constant rumours of a film adaptation based on the award-winning television drama that is 24, Variety reports that a big-screen transfer is the next logical step for Twentieth Century Fox following eight years of the show.

According to US reports, the television network has picked up a pitch from established screenwriter Billy Ray, who penned the recent Russell Crowe thriller State of Play.

This new project has received a positive backing from the star of the real-time drama Kiefer Sutherland, who plays agent Jack Bauer.

Ray’s storyline would reportedly see Bauer travelling to Europe, although more precise details on what is going to happen have yet to made public. If the film is made, executives will seek to hold on to the creative team that worked on the series in order to maintain the same qualities, which made the show such a hit with fans and critics alike.

It will be fascinating to see how the show can be translated on to the big screen. The ‘real-time’ element must remain but obviously not over a 24-hour period, as that would be a very long film…

In addition, adapting television shows to films could lead to become a hit or a flop. In the case of The X-Files, a popular sci-fi show, two films were made during and after the series.

The first film entitled Fight The Future was a success back in 1998, taking in a box office around $84 million plus $105 million overseas giving a grand total of $189 million. A follow-up with The X Files: I Want To Believe in 2008 was less successful, no thanks for the show being off the air for six years. That film only grossed $68 million worldwide.

Hopefully the same group of writers and producers will maintain that 24 feel. Not to mention the period of filming the television show and making a film will have to be seamless (for continuity reason), although this will be difficult considering the production time in making the show.

Best of luck to Twentieth Century Fox and to writer Billy Ray. I would personally love to see Jack Bauer at my local cinema!

New season of 24 returns to Sky1 on January 24th

Jack Bauer’s new nightmare day returns to Sky1 on January 24th with a two-hour episode set in the Big Apple.

Season eight sees a new threat to Bauer and after watching this brief teaser trailer via YouTube, it promises to be more tense and dramatic.

As to what we should expect in the next 24 episodes, the official Sky1 website has provided some details on Day 8. See the full extract below:

When we last saw Jack Bauer (Golden Globe® and Emmy® winner Kiefer Sutherland), his life was hanging in the balance. But, true to form, the hardest man in television is back for another heart stopping, action-packed series of the award-winning US drama series 24. With a relocation to New York, the return of CTU and new exciting cast additions, this season looks set to follow Day 7 in being one of the best yet when it returns to Sky1 HD and Sky1 on Sunday 24 January.

At the start of 24’s new, eighth season, Bauer is hoping for a quiet life with his daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert, Captivity) and his granddaughter. However, a group of terrorists have other plans and an assassination plot against a visiting Middle Eastern leader Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor, Slumdog Millionaire) is uncovered. It’s not long before Bauer is called upon to help prevent Hassan’s murder.

Kiefer Sutherland said: “Season 7 and 8…are really connected together. The storylines from Season 7 really do play all the way through into Season 8. The setup for [this season] is the most realistic political thing that I think we’ve ever done since we started the show. This season is more grounded in what possibly could happen. There’s a sense of reality that almost brings it back to Season 1.”

CTU is back in action and based in New York, headed up by Special Agent Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson, Forrest Gump). He is joined by brainy bombshell Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica) and her fiancé, head of field operation Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr, I Know What You Did Last Summer).

Returning for Day 8 are CTU devotee Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub, Little Miss Sunshine), Renee Walker (Annie Wersching, General Hospital) and President Allison Taylor played by Cherry Jones (Ocean’s Twelve) fresh from her Emmy® win for her work on Day 7. Plus, villainous ex-president Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin, The Mentalist) is set to return when Taylor enlists him to assist with an escalating crisis. “The opportunity for these two remarkable actors to share the stage was simply too compelling to pass up,” said executive producer Howard Gordon of the unison of the current and previous presidents.

It all sounds great and I look forward to seeing Bauer Action Hour every Sunday night from January 24th!

Jack Bauer’s new eighth day

Jack Bauer’s new eighth day
Season eight of the award-winning real-time drama 24 will be premier early next year and after watching this short teaser trailer, it certainly lives up to its reputation with more action and thrills in the company of Jack Bauer.
The new eighth day will start at 4.00 pm in a new location, New York City. After six seasons in Los Angeles and the previous season in Washington DC, the latest terrorist threat has shifted to the Big Apple.
The story arc will involve Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) contending with assassination threats made during a peace conference between President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) of the United States and President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor) of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan.
In a recent interview with the star Kiefer Sutherland confirmed that Season eight will take place within very close proximity to the closing events of Season seven, and is likely to be the show’s final season. He stated “there’s only so much you can do to Jack (Bauer) before you lose realism. I think a movie would be a good way to end this story.”

Season eight of the award-winning real-time drama 24 will be premiering early next year and after watching this short teaser trailer (YouTube video below), it certainly lives up to its reputation with more action and thrills in the company of Jack Bauer.

The new eighth day will start at 4.00 pm in a new location, New York City. After six seasons in Los Angeles and the previous season in Washington DC, the latest terrorist threat has shifted to the Big Apple.

The story arc will involve Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) contending with assassination threats made during a peace conference between President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) of the United States and President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor) of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan.

In a recent interview with the star Kiefer Sutherland confirmed that season eight will take place within very close proximity to the closing events of season seven, and is likely to be the show’s final season. He stated “there’s only so much you can do to Jack (Bauer) before you lose realism. I think a movie would be a good way to end this story.”


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Bauer is back! 24: REDEMPTION and new series update

Bauer 24 Redemption

Welcome back the all-America action hero that is Jack Bauer. Next week on Sky 1 (on November 24th no less!) a special two-hour prequel movie that bridges the gap between Days 6 and 7 of 24 returns to the screen.

In 24: REDEMPTION we catch up with Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) on the African continent where he has sought solace in missionary work. He soon finds himself in the midst of a bloody uprising in the fictitious African nation of Sangala where a ruthless dictator is drafting innocent children to serve as soldiers in his army. As the vicious Colonel Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) descends on an orphanage in search of recruits, Jack enters into a one-man crusade at the behest of his friend Carl Benton (Robert Carlyle) to rescue the children and get them to safety.

Check out the new trailer and the behind-the-scene photographs to 24: REDEMPTION on the Sky 1 website. It all looks really exciting and I for one cannot wait for some Bauer action! As for the regular television series, read this full extract on what to expect in Day 7. WARNING: contains spoilers!

24 Day 7

It seems like it’s been about five years since we last caught up with 24’s Jack Bauer. When last we saw him, he was staring off into the distance at the very edge of a cliff… and has remained doing so since last winter’s writers strike delayed the start of 24’s Day Seven by a year.

However, fans of 24 will get a glimpse into the life of Jack Bauer this fall when FOX airs the two-hour 24 prequel telefilm, 24: Exile, which follows Jack in Africa as he takes on the ripped-from-the-headlines issue of child soldiers.

Fans at the 24 panel at Comic-Con were treated not only to 24: Exile’s trailer–which features lots of familiar faces including Kiefer Sutherland, Peter MacNicol, and Powers Boothe, but also first female president Cherry Jones, Jon Voight, Robert Carlisle, and Gil Bellows–but also to a look at a full scene from the prequel movie, in which Jack shepherds a group of African children to the US embassy but finds himself caught in a full-blown gunfight on a crowded street. In addition to the gunfire, it’s also a deeply emotional scene, in which Jack is forced to tell a sobbing African child that his beloved teacher, Mr. Benton, sacrificed himself in order to ensure their safety.

Kiefer Sutherland and Carlos Bernard, who returns as presumed dead Tony Almeida for Day Seven, were on hand, along with executive producers Jon Cassar, Howard Gordon, David Fury, Manny Coto, and new writing staff additions Brandon Braga and Carlos Coto. Gordon explained that the “genesis” of 24: Exile originally came about when they were exploring doing some webisodes or mobisodes for 24 and he and Sutherland began riffing about an African storyline that had been discarded from a previous season; those discussions ended up informing what would become 24: Exile. “It turned out to be a very good idea,” said Gordon. “Day Six ended with Jack at the edge of the cliff, a very existential moment… but an emotional bridge was missing [from the season finale].”

Cassar said that the studio originally intended to shoot for three days in South Africa and then shoot the rest of the two-hour Exile in Simi Valley, California, which would have been a “hard cheat.” FOX ended up telling them to shoot the entire thing in South Africa, which was “tough,” as they had to get a new crew and new actors, but Cassar admitted that the process was “pretty exciting… being there gave it a whole new feeling.”

For Sutherland, 24: Exile was definitely exciting. “It was arguably one of the best scripts we’ve ever had,” said Sutherland. “We weren’t racing against some clock to get it to air.”

As for the issue of the strike, Manny Coto said that it was a mixed blessing but it “allowed us the freedom and creativity to make the season even deeper.”

As for the depth of Day Seven, we do know that it involves the first female president of the United States, who will be played by celebrated Broadway actress Cherry Jones, and the return of fan favourite character Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard).

For his part, Bernard says he jumped at the opportunity to work with the 24 again, due to the “amazing mixture of talented people who make this show” and said he had the “funniest year yet working on the show.”

So what does it mean that Tony has seemingly returned from the dead? Gordon joked that it “very well could be a measure of our desperation that he’s back,” and noted that on paper at least Tony had been killed four times over the series’ run. Producers David Fury and Manny Coto, however, refused to accept Tony’s final death (which seemed to be sticking), saying that they didn’t believe that Tony was dead; even Gordon admitted that he didn’t love the way that Tony had died.

For Sutherland, Tony’s death was a reminder that none of the characters is safe. “The most difficult thing during the run of the show,” said Sutherland, “is working with talented actors who leave the show. Everything has to service the story. When Howard Gordon brought up that Tony was coming back again, I asked, ‘How?'”

The secret behind Tony’s return will be a major component of Day Seven. Sutherland says the method by which he’s returned to the series is “so clever” and “very 24.” The back-story will be a function of how Tony didn’t actually die and what was done behind people’s backs in order to secretly keep him alive and fake his death. “I think the writers did an amazing job,” said Sutherland.

As for what to expect from Day Seven, launching in January, Sutherland joked that Tony will die. But more honestly, Sutherland said, “We’re not trying to reinvent the show… [But] make it better, tighter, and smarter and that’s hopefully what you’ll see in the seventh season.”

As for Jack, “he’s trying to be better,” said Sutherland. New cast additions include Cherry Jones, Jon Voight, Annie Wersching (who will play Jack’s new partner, a tough-as-nails FBI agent who could be perceived as a “female Jack Bauer”), Rhys Coiro, and Janeane Garofalo.

Audiences will see Jack Bauer have to answer for the torture he’s inflicted on several characters throughout the series’ run. David Fury says that they are never “endorsing torture” but are showing that Jack’s use of torture will have consequences. “It’s kind of necessary for people to get hurt,” said Fury about the series.

What we won’t be seeing in Day Seven, however, is Jack pausing to grab a cup of coffee, use the toilet, or grab a sandwich. In fact, Sutherland and Gordon revealed that they had shot a scene in a previous season in which Jack was seen coming out of the restroom before a raid and the network cut the scene. “Whenever they cut to the White House,” joked Sutherland, “Jack is in the bathroom. And not only is he peeing, he’s having a drink and getting something to eat.”

As for favourite episodes, Sutherland diplomatically says that he’s “optimistic about that future” and therefore they haven’t made his favourite yet but that 24: Exile is “certainly up there.” He’s also extremely proud of episodes 8-11 of Day Seven. (His coolest moment on the series to date, however was when he “chopped off that guy’s head off in Season Two.”)

Bernard seconded the notion, saying that his favourite was definitely from Day Seven. As for Tony being evil, Bernard said that the transformation for Tony from hero to villain is “very organic from where his story has gone since the beginning.” Sutherland says that the first scene he shot with Bernard this season, “I got to shoot at him and tackle him. I loved it.”

So what’s going on with those rumours of a 24 feature film? Gordon says that the basic consensus is that “while the series is on the air, I don’t want to mess with a good thing,” but that a 24 feature will happen when the series wraps.

It all sounds great. Still no news on the exact date when Day 7 returns to the British screen but it is being shown in America from January 11th 2009. Hopefully, Sky 1 will be showing the new series not far behind so we can experience Jack Bauer’s new stressful day.

Jack Bauer returns with a two-hour prequel movie

24 Redemption

American action hero Jack Bauer returns in an upcoming movie that will bridge the sixth and seventh seasons of hit television drama 24.

Filmed on location in Cape Town, South Africa, and Los Angeles, 24: REDEMPTION stars Emmy Award winner Kiefer Sutherland along with new cast members Cherry Jones, Robert Carlyle, Gil Bellows and Academy Award winner Jon Voight.

After sacrificing everything for his country, Jack Bauer (Sutherland) is wanted by the U.S. government and now stands to lose the only thing he has left: his freedom.

Working as a missionary in Africa, Bauer is called upon to stop a ruthless warlord from drafting innocent children into his murderous militia. First, Jack must confront his own torturous past and face an impossible decision that will change his life forever.

A decision that will set the stage and raise the stakes for season seven, which debuts in January 2009.

Judging by this three-minute trailer (shown below), it’s great to see the action shifting to new surroundings after six years in downtown LA. I am quite excited by this movie and it will certainly renew my interest in the show after that frustrating strike that postponed the new series last year. Bring on November 23rd!

Jack Bauer will be back… in 2009

Kiefer Sutherland jacket

Due to the 14-week Writers’ Strike in Hollywood – which has now been resolved – the latest season of Jack Bauer’s new nightmare day has been postponed until the following year.

American television network Fox has decided that the show’s seventh season will be delayed until January 2009 to ensure that Day 7 of 24 can air uninterrupted, in it’s entirety.

The show’s latest season was set to begin last January and run without a break, but in November, strike complications forced Fox to delay the season premiere to an unspecified time. Now, Fox has called 2008 a loss for the show and will run season seven in January 2009. Which is bad news for fans and Kiefer…

The crew has already shot eight episodes of this season, which sees the action move to Washington, DC, instead of Los Angeles. If Fox had opted to continue production of the show this year, there would have been a lengthy break before the newly produced episodes would air. Because 24 are heavily serialized, Fox wanted to ensure the seventh season was aired uninterrupted.

I bet Kiefer Sutherland is kicking himself, as the actor opted to serve a portion of his jail sentence for a DUI charge over the holidays in order to avoid slowing down the production of the show… Now it seems he has do something else to fill in the time before playing the role as the hard-charge CTU agent.

In addition, 24’s seventh season will be the first without co-creator Joel Surnow. He will leave his duties to pursue other projects.