Having hit more than 10.4m views on its epic finale, Bodyguard is now the most watched BBC drama in 10 years. The hit show follows David Budd (Richard Madden), a valiant but scarred war veteran working as a specialist protection officer for the Metropolitan Police. Promoted to manage the security of the home secretary, he finds himself safeguarding a controversial and ambitious politician, Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes). Powerful and tipped to lead her party, she fights relentlessly for what David hates. With conflict, terrorism and subterfuge spilling onto the streets of London, will David prevail in his duties and protect Julia, or could he be her downfall?
It’s your classic modern drama; lots of painful situations in dark and quiet scenes, unexpected outbursts of action and a few thousand suspects. It’s also very well made. You can’t tell which surprises are coming, the conflict is exciting and the mystery baffling. At its core it’s a simple story of a man with a quest, and a bunch of other factors he has to deal with. But having a good, solid core to the plot is one of this show’s strengths. The story stays focused, and doesn’t stretch itself too thin – it follows Budd’s actions and relationships in detail, but without being obvious.
It would be easy to write very two dimensional characters for this kind of show, but Bodyguard combats this well by weaving complex webs of uncertainty around every personality in the story. In particular, Budd’s inner psyche unfurls further with each episode, such that his volatile and mercurial nature becomes nigh on impossible to predict. Madden plays Budd superbly, reaching beyond the clean-shaven-Robb-Stark first impression, handling his character’s mental problems perfectly. The show is as much about the psychology of its characters as it is about their actions. David’s struggle against his duty, his beliefs and his mental health combine to create a complex and dramatic show, delving much deeper than its counterparts.
Watching the show, there is no obvious ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – just various groups working against and with each other in the most spectacular way. We, the viewers, are left entirely to ourselves to decide who we stand with and who we stand against. Partway through the series, the internet was heaving with conspiracy theories and wild suggestions – the plot was saturated with motives, red herrings, questionable actions and dramatic irony that leads the audience around in circles.
Bodyguard has enjoyed widespread praise – with the prerequisite criticisms that accompany any successful programme – culminating in the massive viewing figures for the finale. The numbers don’t lie, it is one of the best dramas from the BBC in a decade. It’s no novel concept or left-field idea, just a tried and trusted format executed fantastically. It’s a brilliant watch – no tinge of disappointment at the end, just an engrossing and thrilling tale.
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