The CTU ringtone. The Jack Bauer 'Damnit!'. The onscreen clock...
If, like me, you're a fan of the award winning American drama series '24', then all three of the iconic features I've compiled above should bring back a few great memories. Whether you recorded the show and watched it back on VHS, or, saw it on Sky1 with your family on a pleasant Sunday evening, you'd most probably have the same thing in common with me: the notion that 24 is AWESOME. With a capital A.
For anyone wondering what 24 is besides an unlucky number in Cantonese or the name of a restaurant in Norfolk, let me explain the very basic premise of the show. It revolves around the memorable protagonist, Jack Bauer: a CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) agent, played by the London born, American actor Kiefer Sutherland. His job? Well, to put it simply: he's a badass who chases bad guys.
Uniquely set in real time, the show initially ran from 2001-2010 but is currently in production (in London in fact), for a new miniseries entitled 24: Live Another Day, airing in May this year.
Anyway, you may wonder why I'm telling you about this programme...
Well...because I starred in it!
That's right. A young, lavish, brown boy from the depths of Harrow, making his mark amongst the best of the best when it comes to television heavyweights. From London360 to 'Murica baby. That's how I roll.
Well, no that's a major exaggeration. I'm still here. You're stuck with me England. As a member of 'Universal Extras' - an extras agency for film and television; I was offered a paid role as an extra (along with 250 other people) to play the small part of a protester, for a one day shoot, wreaking havoc outside a US embassy. Here, I'd be chanting loud and proud phrases such as 'No more drones!, Stop the war! and War is death!', as the president (James Heller) and his daughter (Audrey Raines), made their way out and into a presidential limo, kitted up with the American flag and tinted, black windows.
How was the experience you wonder? Well, like that old school Artful Dodger and Craig David tune though, let me re-re-wind. 24 style...
Sunday Morning. My bed. I slowly awoke in a haze of sleepiness...sometimes when I'm in that groggy state I tend to hallucinate. Thankfully I was able to process my surroundings. You should know one thing about being on set as an extra. If call time is early, it's damn early. I was expected to be on set at 7am for a potential 12 hour day of 'acting'; half of which is usually spent waiting around to be called for your scene.
Anyway, in this case, I packed a bag of clothes and took a cab to Pall Mall to the very fancy 'IOD building' ('an influential and respected membership organisation') as this was the waiting place the extras were to congregate- basically, it was a building so fabulous, it made Liberace himself look like a tramp, high on blue meth.
After getting signed in and feeling too tired to mingle with the other extras (a vast range of shapes, sizes and backgrounds) and flicking through Twitter to pass what felt like 24 hours (excuse the pun), I was called by the costume department to have my outfit checked, making sure no brands were on display and that I was pretty enough for the camera. We (the protestors) were then taken out to the back of the building where the official set was. We were given banners as our weapon of choice, to swing about as we chanted; (I managed to worm my way to the front of the crowd with a 'Drones are aggression' one). This was it. My big moment was coming up. Aside from protesters, there were other extras kitted up in police uniforms along with people playing the role of the press.
8.30 am - 12.30pm.
Now a day like this should be fun and easy. You're on the set of one of the greatest shows in American television, getting relatively easy money and having a ball. WRONG (to an extent anyway).
The blunt force trauma that hit my mood had nothing to with the job (I mean I was on the set of one of my favourite shows) but everything to do with the bleak, British weather. The sky must have been drunk or had a full bladder because it unleashed its venomous leakage all over me. The wind was sharper than a switchblade knife, cutting into my neck. It was cold, wet and windy. I felt like I was in one enormous fish tank. There were times throughout the day that I WAS miserable and felt to go home and catch up on Homeland in my jogging bottoms with ice cream. Rock out the Bridget Jones flex. Buy hey, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity I figured so man up you sissy, I kept telling myself.
After 4 hours of hell (and lunch) we were finally allowed to sign our payslips and leave. Kiefer himself wasn't even on set that day which kind of sucked but I wasn't expecting it anyway due to the nature of the scene. The worst part of the day was the standing in the rain part. They should have changed the show name to 24/7. I felt time stood still. The only clock I could hear ticking was the time bomb in my head.
But you know what? I'd do it all over again.
Over N' Out.