'24' star Kiefer Sutherland revealed what he'd missed most during his absence from the screen as Jack Bauer at last night's special screening of '24: Live Another Day' in London.
The actor sounded unusually emotional as he described his feelings for his co-stars and crew, and the bond they'd built during eight long seasons of the hit show.
"When I went to say goodbye to a member of the crew on that last day," he remembered, and had to pause to compose himself before continuing, "neither of us could speak. It sounds cliched, but they really were like my family.
"All the other stuff I could do at home," he laughed, referring to his high-octane role, "but I missed being with them."
At the time, it seemed that they were in fact saying goodbye forever, with Kiefer Sutherland publicly thanking his crew and Fox for "the role of a lifetime".
The ninth season of the hit show is set in London and reveals Jack Bauer in fugitive mode, using all his skills to dodge the cross-hairs of the CIA's London Unit, led by Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) and the President's Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan).
Whereas all the previous series have been 24 hours long, with each show running an hour of real narrative time, this series will be 12 hours long, which will enable them to skip the boring bits, according to Kiefer.
The first episode of the series doesn't hang out all the usual London landmarks, with much of the action set in a South East London warehouse, as well as within what is meant to be the CIA's London compound.
Returning names to the cast alongside Kiefer include William Devane as President James Heller and Mary Lynn Rajskub as super hacker Chloe O'Brian. A new name is Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski as CIA agent on Jack's tail, Kate Morgan.
British fans will be happy to spot some familiar faces in the cast. As well as Colin Salmon sporting an American accent as one of the US President's military men, Stephen Fry will be on distinctive duty as the British Prime Minister.
Show director Jon Cassar told the audience, " We were hoping to get him to a pub quiz between takes. We'd definitely win."
'24: Live Another Day' debuts tonight on Sky1 at 9pm. Watch the trailer below...