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24 - Season Three won't be shown on BBC2



Preview: Jack Foley

FANS of the real-time drama, 24, will have to wait with baited breath to see the third series of the excellent thriller, as negotiations between Fox and BBC Two have broken down, paving the way for other UK broadcasters to bid for the show.

The show, which features Kiefer Sutherland as government agent, Jack Bauer, has amassed a dedicated cult following, following the first two seasons in which the character first had to save a presidential candidate from assassination, and then the city of Los Angeles, from a nuclear bomb.

The third series, which has reportedly failed to attract as many viewers in America, is said to feature Bauer in another race against time to save LA from a deadly virus.

A spokesman for the BBC commented: "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.

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

The hot favourite to land the show, instead, is Channel 5, which already shows highly-rated US dramas, such as CSI, The Shield and Boomtown, but Channel Four (which boasts Friends and ER in its US line-up) or Sky One could be other potential bidders (the latter, of course, would mean bad news for terrestrial fans).

In other 24 news, concern has been mounting in America over the latest series, after it suffered a ratings dip after its first instalment aired.

The opening episode of the show's third series apparently lost two million viewers, when compared with its second season debut, a dip programme bosses are blaming on the change of 'lead in' programme before it.

Joe Millionaire has been far less popular with viewers than American Idol, which aired before the second season of 24, prompting the show's executive producer, Brian Grazer, to reassure viewers that the third season of his real-time drama was even better than the tense second.

That said, reviews of season three's opener have been less than favourable, with many fans expressing disappointment at the start.

According to several online sites, the story begins three years after the events of the second season, as a corpse, which has succumbed to a lethal and highly contagious toxin, is dumped in a very public location.

A demand is then made, that if a notorious drug kingpin is not freed from jail, the deadly virus will be widely released.

Jack Bauer, who now runs a special field operations division for the Counter Terrorist Unit, sets off on the trail of this viral threat, which is nothing short of a ticking time bomb.

Other developments include a less-trusting president, still scarred from the attempt on his life at the end of season three, and a higher-profile for Kim Bauer, who is now a CTU agent, and dating Jack's new partner.

UK fans can only wait, surf and hope to catch some glimpse of the new season once the bidding war has died down. If not, then there's always likely to be the DVD box set...

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