It’s not hard to figure out why the nation has been so gripped by The Bodyguard this September. The show is a political thriller in which politicians and officers hide their actions from the public and act purely out of self-interest, while claiming to only have the good of the country at heart. – I have absolutely no idea what parallels can be drawn by the British public there… Yet, for 6 weeks, the nation tuned in for a collective heart attack, making The Bodyguard the most watched BBC drama since 2008.
Keeley Hawes, of course, shines in any role she’s in, and her now-second collaboration with writer Jed Mercurio is no exception. A regular to BBC dramas, including Ashes to Ashes and Line of Duty, her convincingly steely portrayal of the Home Secretary is certainly one that was difficult to forget going in to the final episode.
Richard Madden, known for his role as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, has possibly found his star-making role here as Sergeant David Budd, war-veteran turned police officer turned personal bodyguard. His ability to effortlessly slip from quiet desperation to overwhelming frustration to broken acceptance in mere moments is incredible.
Madden is able to do more with his face and voice than many actors learn to do in a
lifetime of performance, and it would be a crime to take the talent that goes into this for granted. Is it any wonder his odds of playing James Bond have been dramatically slashed since the premier of the show? Has there ever been a better audition tape?
To Mercurio’s credit, the tension the show establishes in the chilling opening 17 minutes of
the first episode has only wavered momentarily across the whole drama – and the final episode was no exception to the standard he raised.
Each storyline is kicked into high- gear: the Security Service must ensure Budd is killed to stop investigations, the discovery of Budd’s PTSD throws his previous behaviour and pleas of innocence into jeopardy, and the identity of the mole is revealed.
All the while, David is strapped into a bomb, his arms outstretched, Christ-like, as he runs out of time. It feels like anything could happen, including the death of the protagonist.
Once David gets out of the vest, however, there are still questions left unanswered, and with only a matter of hours before the police take him in, David bursts through the final stretch of the episode with heightened, nervous energy.
And then we get to the twist. The moment the series had been building to, the reveal of the largest conspiracy in government history. What was the twist, I hear you ask?Absolutely nothing. Everything that we thought was happening, was happening. No secret PTSD-fuelled dream states, no reveals of complicity from David Budd.
The Secret Service were, and had always been, the bad guys. Yet somehow, the show remains one of the most compelling dramas to grace our screens in a long time. Though
he proved trustworthy, David Budd’s fragile state of mind ensured that we never quite trusted the narrative, and to the show’s credit, the twist was never the most important part; the journey was.
Of course, there’s what the writers clearly thought was the twist: the reveal of the final maniacal villain, which they’d clearly expected to be subversive (or at least, expected to subvert the first stereotype they enacted), but instead ended up being
an uncomfortable stereotype and the one part of the series that completely drags it down.
You have to wonder why the writers’ room didn’t have anyone recognised it as a problem. With more of this creativity, The Bodyguard would have its more shocking and fitting twist right at the end.
It must be said that the best tension came from the first and last episodes. The show finished the way it began- brilliant, full of action. Generally, the writing was exceptional throughout the series, but the best tension came from the first and last episodes. The show finished the way it began – brilliantly, full of action, without wasting a second.