TV Review: Bodyguard

The BBC’s drama resurgence has kept the spines of the nation well and truly tingling this Autumn, and blockbuster thriller Bodyguard has only upped the ante. Whilst Line of Duty fans in particular were marking off the calendar days in advance, not many could have preempted the richness of action and suspense that the masterful Jed Mercurio has poured into his latest conspiracy.

“Mercurio has us scrambling to connect the dots”

The life of returning Helmand veteran David Budd (Richard Madden), promoted by the Metropolitan Police to Principal Protection Officer for Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), almost unravels faster than the plot as he struggles to battle his psychological scars. And once again, with the threat level upped to severe following a spate of terror attacks, trust is at a premium as Mercurio has us scrambling to connect the dots. Our complacencies are this time challenged within the political realm. Why are the Security Services and the Police forces being kept apart? Why is Budd given so much authority on the case despite clearly not being fit for work? These are questions that follow us right to the breathless finale.

“His demeanour unflappable to vulnerable, with apparent ease”

Undeniably, much of the draw of this series is generated by the exceptional and multi-dimensional performance of Richard Madden; his character shifting from Bond to Romeo, and his demeanour unflappable to vulnerable, with apparent ease. The decision to embrace his Scottish accent has only added to his convincing performance, whilst his sharp, often robotic delivery contributes to some of the drama’s tensest moments.

He has certainly done no harm to his reputation following his rise to fame as Robb Stark on Game of Thrones and has firmly established himself as TVs latest leading man, with the line ‘I’ll protect you ma’am’ no doubt sending shivers down the spines of half of the nation. The best of Madden is brought out by the resolute performance of Julia Montague by Keeley Hawes, who convincingly portrays a politician fuelled by ambition, and expertly maintains an eerie opaqueness surrounding the politician’s true intent. Major credit must also be given to Anjli Mohindra’s self-proclaimed ‘empowering’ portrayal of Nadia, extracting non-stop excitement from a role that could so easily have consolidated negative stereotypes.

“Priority given to keeping the viewers gripped with frequent, and quite literal, explosive moments”

Along the way, a few misinterpretations need dissecting. Those questioning the probability of the relentlessly unfolding action will miss the crux, for Bodyguard is a series set out entirely to thrill. It is a drama in which politics serves as the backdrop but not the essence, with priority going to keeping the viewers gripped with frequent, and quite literal, explosive moments. I hold further qualms in suggestions that the high number of women found in senior positions, from the unflinching Commander Anne Sampson (Gina McKee), to the devoted Detective Sergeant DS Louise Rayburn (Nina Toussaint-White), allude to the development of a feminist statement.  Whilst it appears obvious, and admirable, that Mercurio has cast gender neutral roles throughout the show, he insists that this was not done with the intention of proving a point, and certainly not meant to interfere with the action.

“The most watched BBC drama since the Dr Who Christmas Special a decade ago”

To gauge a perspective of the ripples this series has sent down the nation, one only needs to consult Bodyguard’s viewing figures, as the drama amassed a peak of 11 million at its finale, establishing itself as the most watched BBC drama since the Dr Who Christmas Special a decade ago, and it isn’t hard to see why. With an intricately woven plot spiced to perfection with sporadic atrocities, Bodyguard is as captivating as it gets, and it is no wonder talks for a second series are already in the offing.


Robbie Curtis

Featured image courtesy of BBC One Official Facebook Page. 

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