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Bodyguard: the real reason this key character was killed off

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Kayleigh Dray
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Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode four of BBC One’s Bodyguard. You’ve been warned.

It was, without a shadow of a doubt, an unexpected plot twist. Just halfway through the first series run of BBC One’s Bodyguard, we watched as Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) was rushed to hospital after being caught up in the St Matthew’s College bombing.

We knew, in our hearts, that Motague would be fine: after all, she hadn’t uttered any halting final words to a stricken David Budd (Richard Madden) – and she certainly hadn’t met her maker in gory technicolour slow-motion, either. Instead, she’d been placed in the hands of some of the country’s best doctors and rushed into emergency surgery. She was safe. Or, y’know, so it seemed.

It wasn’t until midway through the bombing’s fallout episode, when a surgeon grimly shook his head, that we learned our favourite deuteroganist’s injuries had proven to be (realistically) severe. She had died on the operating table, without any fuss or fanfare. And, in doing so, she changed the direction of Bodyguard all together – exactly as creator Jed Mercurio intended.

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“I think there’s a certain expectation with series TV that it will always orbit around an equilibrium, in which nothing much changes for the main stars, and there are no drastic changes to the set-up, especially now things tend to run for several series,” he told the Radio Times.

“But, with my work, I like to try to do things that move the story on, and with Bodyguard, I wanted to have this event mid-series that would completely alter the dynamic.”

Mercurio continued: “I remember watching TV as a kid and, whenever there was some sort of jeopardy involving the hero, I could reassure myself that they were what I’d call a ‘can’t-die’ character, so everything would be OK,” he said.

“Even though you’d just seen a completely crazed Mr Spock strangle Captain Kirk to death [in Star Trek], you’d know that a few minutes later there would be some bizarre twist involving the time-space continuum and Kirk would be alive on the Starship Enterprise.”

Looking back at Mercurio’s work on Line of Duty, he certainly has form for killing off major characters unexpectedly. However, there’s a popular theory circulating the internet right now – one which suggests Julia isn’t actually dead.

We know what you must be thinking: Julia’s death was announced on the news. Her family were privately informed of her demise: the evidence seems pretty conclusive. However, when you consider the fact that Montague had contacts high up in the security services (and had seen several attempts made on her life), she had good reason for making those out to get her think they had succeeded.

Even more intriguingly, there are those who believe the Home Secretary – who was all too aware of Budd’s PTSD – may have actually played a part in finding and swapping out the bullets from his gun. 

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Plus, there is the extra little matter of the Romeo & Juliet theory.

From Montague’s surname to the apparent rose in Budd’s, fans everywhere have begun falling upon Romeo & Juliet imagery everywhere in the BBC One show.

It makes sense, then, that they believe Montague – much like Juliet – faked her own death. And that David, our tragic gun-wielding hero, falsely believes his lover has met her maker, just as Romeo did.

This may seem like a stretch of the imagination, but it’s worth noting that Montague’s death did take place off-screen. We never saw her breathe her last, we never saw the line go flat on the heart monitor, and we never saw the look in her eyes as she met her maker. Indeed, we haven’t even been treated to a shot of a pale Budd identifying his lover’s body in the morgue (now a compulsory staple of all big crime dramas).

However, as one viewer has wryly noted, if Mercurio has borrowed some story elements from Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy, it doesn’t bode well for our beloved Budd. 

Hmm. Roll on episode five already, eh?

Bodyguard continues Sunday night at 9pm on BBC One. You can catch up on iPlayer here.

Image: BBC One

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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