LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Fox TV network on Friday stopped the clock on its action adventure series "24," ending one of its most successful dramas as ratings began to slip in its current, eighth season.
The final, two-hour program will air on May 24, and in the countdown to that last show, the network will air 11 hours of uninterrupted episodes on Monday nights.
"This has been the role of a lifetime, and I will never be able to fully express my appreciation to everyone who made it possible," the show's star, Kiefer Sutherland, said in a statement.
"Looking ahead to the future, (executive producer) Howard Gordon and I are excited about the opportunity to create the feature film version of '24'," Sutherland added.
Since the show began in 2001, Sutherland has portrayed tough-minded federal agent Jack Bauer, who has fended off assassins and terrorists and saved mankind from devastation.
The fast-paced program often employed a split screen to show events happening in two places at one time, and a clock ticked off the time remaining for Bauer to complete his mission. Each one-hour episode represented one hour in Bauer's life, and every season had 24 episodes to simulate a full day.
In its heyday, "24" was one of TV's most popular dramas. It earned a total 68 Emmy Awards, TV's highest honor, including best drama series in 2006. Sutherland was nominated for best actor in a drama seven times, winning once.
But viewership had begun to decline. The most recent episode drew just under 9 million viewers in the United States, down from last season's average of slightly more than 13 million.
Sutherland and the show's creators now hope to take the character to movie theaters in a film version.
(Editing by Sheri Linden)