Bodyguard is the intense new series you’ll soon be filling your evenings with, and here’s why.
What happens when the person you are asked to protect is also your biggest threat?
That’s the big question in Bodyguard, the new BBC drama that looks at the complicated relationship between a war veteran security detail and the hawkish Home Secretary he is assigned to protect.
The new six part series from Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio charts the efforts of Sergeant David Budd, played by Games of Thrones’ Richard Madden, to protect Conservative MP Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), at a time when the UK terrorist threat has been raised to severe.
Bodyguard demonstrates just how real that terror threat is from its nail biting opening sequence, where Budd is caught up in a potential suicide bomb on a packed commuter train, which turns into arguably the most intense 15 minutes of television you’ll see this year.
But it’s Budd’s promotion at work to guard the notoriously ambitious Montague that sees the tension really racket up. The police protection officer comes to the job with baggage. A Helmand veteran, Budd’s psychological scars have triggered problems at home with his wife Vicky (Sophie Rundle), the mother of his two children. In work, he maintains a cool, professional front which hides a mistrust of the people he is charged with protecting.
For Montague, a woman with her eye on the top political job in the country, there are the allegiances of Westminster to negotiate. It does not help matters that her ex-husband is the (conniving) chief whip and she has made an enemy of an aide she has ruthlessly dispensed with.
But it’s when bodyguard and politician get up close and personal, that sparks fly. “Much like David has to keep his mask up all the time, Julia has to keep her mask up all the time too,” Madden explains. “Instantly you have these two very strong characters with their own definite agendas that actually clash with each other. Yet they’re both two very lonely and isolated people.”
For Hawkes, who plays the MP with a brilliant steeliness reminiscent of a certain recent real life home secretary, the chance to play at being a politician gave her a real taste of the job. “She’s kind of damaged – she’s divorced, vulnerable, and she’s in such a tense and high-power, high-profile job as a cabinet minister,” Hawes, who also starred in Line of Duty, says.
“Politicians aren’t ever going to be popular with everybody. It becomes very personal. It is the toughest job – I wouldn’t want to be a politician. You just can’t win!”
Not to be confused with The Bodyguard, the 90s romantic drama where Kevin Costner’s security detail takes a bullet for Whitney Houston’s superstar singer, this six part BBC series takes a more nuanced approach to professional/personal dynamics.
In Bodyguard, no one is quite as good or bad, whether they are would be terrorists, police chiefs, security personnel or government minister. “A lot of TV does go for heroes and villains – and for very demarcated characters,” creator Mercurio explains. “One of the characteristics of Line of Duty and Bodyguard is that characters can have a bit of good and evil in them. They can be positive characters with very real flaws that lead to dramatic consequences.”
Bodyguard is on BBC1 Sunday 26th August at 9pm, episode 2 airs Monday 27th August at 9pm and the remaining episodes go out on Sunday nights.