Review: The Bodyguard series

The first season of the BBC drama ‘The Bodyguard’ has made quite the splash, boasting the highest viewership of any U.K. drama program since records began in 2002. The series follows PC David Budd (Richard Madden) as he is assigned to protect the Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) and what follows is a tense thriller that is a must watch.

The standout star of the show is undoubtedly Richard Madden. Playing an ex-soldier with PTSD his portrayal of PC Budd’s wrought emotional state gives off a sense of vulnerability but, as the episode two set-piece shows, he is more than capable of handling himself. If you need any more proof that Madden was the right man for the role look no further than the first seventeen minutes of episode one as PC Budd confronts a potential suicide bomber in an emotionally harrowing and unforgettable opening to the series.

As the story progresses it begins to split focus away from PC Budd and towards other players in a strange conspiracy surrounding Budd’s charge, Julia Montague. This conspiracy engulfs the Home department, Secret services and Counter Terrorism Command with each party suspecting the other of foul play and trying to gain leverage against them. In the middle of this are DCI Sharma (Ash Tandon) and DS Rayburn (Nina Toussaint-White) who are attempting to get to the bottom of the events surrounding Montague.

The series has plenty of pros, for a start its premise is gripping enough to keep viewers guessing and it doesn’t suffer from filler episodes or attempts to pad the runtime—its six episodes keep it concise and prevent it overstaying its welcome. It keeps a healthy balance of action and intrigue, with each episode ending with a hook that’ll keep you wanting to watch, making it the perfect show to binge. Additionally, it makes a welcome change from the abundance of shows based on the FBI and CIA with the main showrunner also having a hand in the police drama Line of Duty. The show doesn’t set Budd up as some sort of superhero who can solve all the conflicts on his own, but rather keeps him grounded and realistic, being far out of his element but still persevering.

The show does have some flaws. Its attempts to keep you guessing and its curveballs can backfire as it does get confusing at times. While it doesn’t prevent the overall enjoyment of the show, following all of the different threads of logic can get frustrating at times. The other major criticism of the show is focused on the characterisation of one of its Muslim characters. To prevent spoilers I won’t go into too much detail, but in essence they manage to run the gamut of stereotypes in a way that was clearly meant to be a big shock but just results in a half-baked borderline offensive portrayal.

It’s easy to see why The Bodyguard has attracted so much interest and acclaim. It’s a unique story that is well realised, boasting a talented cast and impressive writing. With talk about Madden returning for a second series, it’ll be interesting to see if the showrunners can capture the same lightning in a bottle or if they attempt to go in a different direction.