Bodyguard (British TV series)

Last updated

Bodyguard tv series 2018 titlecard.JPG
Created by Jed Mercurio
Written byJed Mercurio
Directed by
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes6 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Simon Heath
  • Jed Mercurio
  • Elizabeth Kilgarriff
  • Priscilla Parish
  • Eric Coulter
Production location London
CinematographyJohn Lee
  • Steve Singleton (ep. 1–3)
  • Andrew John McClelland (ep. 4–6)
Running time56–75 minutes
Production company World Productions
Original network BBC One
Picture format HDTV 1080i
Audio format Stereo
Original release26 August 2018 (2018-08-26)—present

Bodyguard is a British political thriller television series created and written by Jed Mercurio and produced by World Productions as part of ITV Studios for the BBC. The six-part series centres around the fictional character of Police Sergeant David Budd (Richard Madden), a British Army war veteran suffering from PTSD, who is now working for the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch of London's Metropolitan Police Service. He is assigned as the principal protection officer (PPO) for the ambitious Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), whose politics he despises. The series draws attention to controversial issues such as government monitoring of private information and its regulation, the politics of intervention and terrorism, and PTSD. [1]


The series began broadcasting on BBC One on 26 August 2018, [2] achieving the highest viewing figures for a new BBC drama in the multichannel era and the highest BBC viewing figures since 2008. [3] [4] The BBC commissioned the series from the then-independent World Productions in 2016. Since ITV Studios Global Entertainment acquired the company in 2017, they have handled international distribution for the series. [5] Netflix agreed to a distribution deal to broadcast the show outside the United Kingdom and Ireland. [6]

The series was met with critical acclaim, particularly for Madden's performance. [7] The series received numerous award nominations including the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama, with Madden winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama. [8] At the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, the series was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series [9] and a second series is in development. [10]

Cast and characters


Budd family
Security Service / MI5




No.EpisodeDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [16]
1Episode 1 Thomas Vincent Jed Mercurio 26 August 2018 (2018-08-26)14.42
Police Sergeant David Budd, an Afghanistan War veteran, is on a train to London Euston when he foils a suicide bomber's plot to blow up the train. Due to his actions, the man and woman terrorists are arrested and taken into custody for interrogation. His heroism results in his promotion to serve on the personal detail of Julia Montague, the Home Secretary. There is tension between the two, as Montague has supported the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan and plans to update RIPA, which opponents believe will threaten civil rights. Budd's experience as a soldier has resulted in his hostility to continued government action there. Montague's ex-husband and Chief Whip Roger Penhaligon suspects her of exploiting the terrorist threat, and of intentions to try to replace the Prime Minister. Meanwhile, Budd struggles to deal with both his PTSD and his deteriorating relationship with his wife. Budd meets Andy Apsted, an old army friend, in the anti-war Veterans Peace Group. Apsted is disgusted with his friend's new career.
2Episode 2Thomas VincentJed Mercurio27 August 2018 (2018-08-27)15.04
Stephen Hunter-Dunn, Director General of MI5, informs Montague of intelligence suggesting a terrorist plan to attack Budd's children's school in retaliation for his foiling of the train bombing. He advises her to keep it secret, fearing a member of the police might have leaked Budd's information to the terrorists. Montague later controversially transfers investigation of the foiled bombing of the school to MI5. When a bomb detonates in the street nearby, two terrorists and three police officers are killed. Budd's family is relocated to a safe house. He is removed from Montague's detail, but she has him reinstated. She also arranges the offer of a place at a special needs school for Budd's son. Returning from a COBRA meeting, Montague's car comes under sniper fire that kills her driver, but she and Budd survive. Budd pursues and corners the sniper, who is revealed to be Apsted before he kills himself. Budd hides his relationship with Apsted. That evening, Budd and Montague act on their attraction and have sex. The next day he is instructed by Anne Sampson, Head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, and his superior, CSU Lorraine Craddock, to record Montague's meetings. They also tell him she had prior knowledge that his children's school would be targeted.
3Episode 3Thomas VincentJed Mercurio2 September 2018 (2018-09-02)14.16
A man calling himself Richard Longcross gives a tablet to Montague, with instructions to use it to access encrypted information. Budd researches Longcross, but is unable to find his profile. With Budd serving as her driver, Montague corners the Prime Minister at Chequers, but their conversation is not revealed. Budd is interviewed by Counter Terrorism Command detectives Sharma and Rayburn, who seem skeptical of his account of the sniper attack. RIPA 18 passes the third House of Commons vote. Mike Travis, Minister of State for Counter-Terrorism, meets Penhaligon to express concern about Montague's relationship with MI5. After Budd chokes Montague during a PTSD episode, she keeps her distance. But before Montague gives a planned speech, she tells Budd that she was informed his children's school was a possible terrorist target. She says she wants him by her side, not because it is his job, but by choice. As she is giving her speech, Budd sees her PR advisor Tahir Mahmood outside the auditorium, but allows him in after checking his briefcase. Seconds later a bomb explodes.
4Episode 4John StricklandJed Mercurio9 September 2018 (2018-09-09)16.18
Knowles and Mahmood were killed in the blast and Montague is in intensive care. Travis is appointed Acting Home Secretary and transfers responsibility for investigating the bombings back to Counter Terrorism Command. The police suspect that Mahmood was responsible for the bombing, but CCTV is not conclusive that the explosion emanated from the briefcase. Budd falls under suspicion because he failed to spot the bomb when clearing Mahmood. DCI Sharma and DS Rayburn interview him and search his property. The next day, the PM announces that Montague is dead. CCTV from the House of Commons shows adviser Rob MacDonald handing Mahmood the briefcase. Before MacDonald is interviewed by police, Travis tells him to stick to their pre-arranged story. Budd attempts suicide, but fails because someone has replaced the bullets in his hidden pistol with blanks. Returning to Montague's hotel, he discovers the security footage has been tampered with to delete Longcross's visit. On orders from Sampson, he accompanies Rayburn to interview Nadia, the suicide bomber on the train, about who had supplied explosives to her. Nadia does not identify the bomb-maker among the pictures she is shown, which include one of Mahmood.
5Episode 5John StricklandJed Mercurio16 September 2018 (2018-09-16)16.85
Analysis establishes that the bomb was not in the briefcase, but under the stage. Rayburn discovers that CCTV footage from before the attack was altered, and Budd creates an E-FIT of Longcross. Apsted is identified by SO15, with his past as an army EOD officer raising suspicion that he might have been the bomb maker. Nadia identifies Longcross as the man her husband met. Budd researches the kompromat Montague was given, and ambushes Penhaligon at his constituency surgery, accusing him of trying to steal the tablet while she was in hospital. Hunter-Dunn denies any association with Longcross, but still refuses to share information with police. MacDonald reveals he and the party planned to embarrass Montague by altering her speech, but never intended physical harm. Budd meets with a gun dealer and attempts to acquire the same type of sniper rifle Apsted used. This attracts the attention of Luke Aikens, a powerful crime lord and another member of the conspiracy. Chanel Dyson, the PR Julia fired, meets Budd at a coffee shop. She invites him for drinks and he gives her his number. Chanel is driven away in the same Range Rover that picked her up after she was fired. It is driven by Luke Aikens. Information regarding Budd's relationship with Montague is leaked, and Budd suspects the security service had bugged Julia's hotel room. PC Tom Fenton, Budd's colleague raises concerns about Budd's self-inflicted head injury. Craddock suspends him from duty and revokes his firearms licence. He visits Montague's flat and finds the tablet hidden in a photo frame.
6Episode 6John StricklandJed Mercurio23 September 2018 (2018-09-23)17.06

Aikens abducts Budd and fits him in a suicide vest with a dead man's switch. The police are called, but they do not believe his story and instead suspect Budd's involvement in the conspiracy due to his newly revealed connection to Apsted. Budd says that he had lied about that to avoid being a fall guy. MI5 is monitoring the scene; suspecting that he is being watched, Budd gives false information about the location of the kompromat, and MI5 sends Longcross to retrieve it. However, Budd has booby-trapped the flat with pepper spray, temporarily blinding Longcross, who is arrested. After a stand-off, Vicky runs towards Budd to prevent the police from shooting him. Still wearing the vest, Budd leads the police to his flat, where Vicky gives them the kompromat and the blank rounds that confirm Budd's innocence. The explosives officer helps Budd disarm the vest and Budd escapes so he can prove his innocence. He discovers Craddock is Aikens's police insider and refrains from fatally shooting Aikens. After Aikens and Craddock are arrested, Craddock confesses to leaking Montague's movements and enabling her assassination. She also admits that she chose Budd to be Montague's PPO because his military/PTSD background made him a perfect fall guy.

Nadia is interviewed again and reveals she lied about recognising Longcross's E-FIT. Nadia says that she built the explosive devices herself. She remembered Budd telling her details about his children as he disarmed her first suicide vest; she passed that on for the attack on their school. The kompromat is leaked, apparently by Sampson, and she tells Budd that the Prime Minister and the Director-General of MI5 will resign. Budd starts occupational health treatment to deal with PTSD, and he and Vicky travel with their children to visit his parents.


The train used for filming the opening scenes. 47596 as 47740 in fictional livery.jpg
The train used for filming the opening scenes.

The series was largely filmed on location in London, [17] including the Whittington Estate for Budd's flat and Battersea for Montague's flat. The bomb scenes in the final episode were filmed around CityPoint near Moorgate and Woburn Square and Senate House in Bloomsbury.

The train scenes in the first episode were filmed on the Mid-Norfolk Railway. [18]

BBC journalists including Andrew Marr, John Pienaar, John Humphrys, and Laura Kuenssberg appear as themselves.



Viewing figures for the series were high, with 10.4 million (peaking at 11 million) viewers watching the overnight broadcast of the finale live on BBC One alone. [19] [20] As significant numbers of viewers watched the show on catchup service iPlayer after transmission, the series sparked a debate on how the media should handle spoilers. Radio Times revealed the fate of Montague in a cover story during the series's original transmission. [21]

Richard Madden's performance as David Budd garnered acclaim from critics and audiences. Richard Madden (48462874707) (cropped).jpg
Richard Madden's performance as David Budd garnered acclaim from critics and audiences.

Critical response

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the series a 93% approval rating, with an average rating of 8.2/10, based on 70 reviews. The critical consensus reads, "Bodyguard maintains a palpable tension throughout its pulpy proceedings to create an absorbing and addicting psychological thriller." [25] On Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 79 out of 100 based on 12 reviews, indicating "generally favourable reviews". [26]

In a positive review, Variety 's Daniel D'Addario describes the series as "Both juicy in its delving into character psychology and rippingly ready to tear up its playbook as it goes, it’s a six-episode ride that demands, and rewards, a quick binge." [27] D'Addario further states that the series "excels at both the daring, gasp-inducing twist and the methodical construction of slower-burning thrills", and that Madden's performance "by turns tripping on his own empathy, and angrily operating beyond rationality, makes us believe anything is possible — a wonderful asset for a show that seeks above all else to keep us watching". [27] Allison Keene, writing for Collider, lauds the performances of the cast, describing Madden's as "enthralling" and "absolutely heartbreaking", and depicts the series as "an exhilarating ride that truly showcases Madden as a major talent". [28] Writing for Time, Judy Berman states that the series "subverts thriller tropes just often enough to earn its reliance on them", [29] and in a five-star review Guardian critic Lucy Mangan expresses that "[ Mercurio] has created something as dark and moreish as ever". [30] Hanh Nguyen of IndieWire describes the series as "relentless", and the performances of Madden and Hawes as "mesmerizing". [31] Robert Rorke of the New York Post writes that the series is "gripping" and that Madden "gives a magnetic performance". [32]

In a more mixed assessment, Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Some elements of the series struck me as odd...and certain climactic revelations had me talking to the screen. But the action is well mounted and the tension tightly wound; it uncoils, when it does, with a satisfying snap". [33] In a similarly mixed review, The Atlantic 's Sophie Gilbert acknowledged that "Hawes is elegantly unknowable as Julia...she gives just enough nuance in her performance to make you question whether she has a heart or is extremely deft at emotional manipulation", however she laments that "To watch Bodyguard’s six episodes is to suspend disbelief and submit to its surprises. It helps not to expect too much more than that, particularly when it comes to the show’s lavish employment of archetypes, which inevitably leads to its more questionable elements." [34]

Intelligent Protection International Limited’s CEO Alex Bomberg on BBC Radio 5 Live [35] said that the plot, in particular the personal relationship that Budd developed with his charge, would be frowned upon as both unprofessional and putting the charge at risk. Detective Chief Inspector Steve Ray, of the Royal and Specialist Protection Command (RaSP) told the BBC [36] that “the relationship that we have with our principals is purely professional”, adding that anyone who crossed the line would quickly be identified and would not last very long in Protection Command or even in the police service”.


2018 RTS Craft & Design Awards Best Sound – DramaDan Johnson, Simon Farmer, Jamie Caple, and Marc LawesWon [37]
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Drama BodyguardNominated [38]
Best Actor – Television Series Drama Richard Madden Won
2019 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series Richard MaddenNominated [39]
National Television Awards New DramaBodyguardWon [40]
Drama PerformanceRichard MaddenWon
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Drama Series for Non-Commercial TelevisionSteve Singleton for "Episode 1"Won [41]
Golden Reel Awards Broadcast Media Longform Dialogue / ADRDan Johnson and James Gregory for "Episode 2"Nominated [42]
Broadcast Awards Best Drama Series or SerialBodyguardNominated
Globe de Cristal Awards Meilleure série étrangèreBodyguardNominated [43]
TRIC Awards Best CrimeBodyguardWon
Broadcasting Press Guild Best Drama SeriesBodyguardNominated [44]
Best Actress Keeley Hawes Nominated
British Academy Television Awards Best Drama Series BodyguardNominated [45]
Best Actress Keeley HawesNominated
Virgin TV's Must-See MomentJulia Montague assassinatedWon
British Academy Television Craft Awards Best Director: Fiction Thomas Vincent for "Episode 1"Nominated
Best Editing: Fiction Steve Singleton for "Episode 1"Nominated
Best Sound: Fiction Simon Farmer, Dan Johnson and Marc LawesNominated
Banff Rockie Awards Best English-language Drama SeriesBodyguardWon [46]
Monte-Carlo Television Festival Best TV Series – DramaBodyguardNominated [47] [48]
Outstanding Actor in a TV Series – DramaRichard MaddenWon
Outstanding Actress in a TV Series – DramaKeeley HawesNominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series BodyguardNominated [49]
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Jed Mercurio for "Episode 1"Nominated
Seoul International Drama Awards Best Mini-SeriesBodyguardNominated [50] [51]
Best ActorRichard MaddenNominated
Best DirectorThomas Vincent and John StricklandNominated
Best ScreenwriterJed MercurioWon
British Academy Scotland Awards Best Actor in TelevisionRichard MaddenNominated [52]

Red Nose Bodyguard

A skit titled Red Nose Bodyguard was filmed in support of Comic Relief, featuring many cast members from the series as well as performances from Joanna Lumley, Adrian Dunbar and Sanjeev Bhaskar. [53] The skit was first broadcast on Red Nose Day 2019 on 15 March 2019.

See also

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