How 24 Inspired Charlie Brooker's Zombie Mini Series Dead Set

In a delightful and yet strange turn of events, you have Kiefer Sutherland and his boy Jack Bauer to thank for the trashy, gory, and all around fun UK miniseries "Dead Set." I know, I know, there are no zombies in "24" and there are no Bauers (or terrorists) in "Dead Set," but in an article written by the series creator and writer Charlie Brooker for The Gaurdian, the man behind the world's first zombie reality TV crossover laid out the entire connection. It makes you wonder: how many other horror movies might have been inspired by the unstoppable, high octane take on counterterrorism seen in "24"? I mean, probably not many, but it is weird that it happened once.

Just in case you missed out on "Dead Set" when it was originally released in 2008, the five episode show (which was aired over five consecutive nights on E4 leading up to Halloween) followed the cast a crew of the reality TV show "Big Brother" as a zombie attack completely destabilizes England. Cut off from the outside world and in the middle of shooting an "eviction episode" (where a cast member is kicked off of the show via roommate vote), the cast and crew must barricade themselves on the "Big Brother" set and try to survive. In an authentic twist, many "Big Brother" cast members old and new had cameos in the series.

As Brooker explains in his Guardian article, the idea for the bloody "Big Brother" series came straight from the surreal gem that was "24" and its unending supply of terrorists:

"The idea for my TV show "Dead Set" ... came about one night in 2004 while I was watching '24.' Jack Bauer was performing a tracheotomy on a terrorist with a splintered peg or something, and another terrorist came running through the door. 'I'm enjoying this,' I thought, 'but these terrorists are just ridiculous. They're like waves of Space Invaders. They might as well be zombies.'"

Bloody Big Brother

But that was only one half of the secret sauce that made "Dead Set" feel like the perfect late aughts mix of zombie lore and reality TV gore. The second spark of inspiration happened later:

"Time passed. And then one night I was watching 'Big Brother' when another thought struck me. All zombie movies eventually boil down to a siege situation. What better place to hide than a fortified house thronged with cameras? Every person in the country must've fantasised at some point about what would happen if some terrible apocalypse occurred during a run of Big Brother, leaving the contestants oblivious. So that would be the starting point."

The final product may feel nothing like the post-9/11 action hero slog that is "24," but if wasn't for Bauer, we wouldn't have this perfect little time capsule of the zombie era, that moment in horror history when every piece of media that mattered was chock and block filled with the undead. Sometimes they ambled, sometimes they ran, and they were often cynical stand-ins for everything wrong with society at large. It might have been an trying time, but at least there was fun gore, as Brooker aptly notes:

"We wanted to make something that die-hard zombie fans like myself would love, see. Hopefully we've pulled it off. Throughout the series there are little winks and nods in the direction of various zombie classics, all of which I spent hours rewatching when I was supposed to be writing. And make no mistake — it's grisly."

So pop on your favorite episode of "24" and chase it with an episode of "Dead Set," you might find the spark of creative inspiration you need or you might find yourself writing a spec script about how well Bauer would fair in a zombie apocalypse. Hell, I'd watch it.