BODYGUARD. Directed by Thomas Vincent and John Strickland with Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes. Netflix.
KAREN RUTTER reviews
Police Sergeant David Budd is a broody bugger. But then he’s probably got reason to be, as a British Army war veteran with burn scars on his body and a bad case of PTSD. Nevertheless, despite his wobbly mental state, he’s been given a position as a specialist protection officer in London’s Met Police Service, and assigned to protect the prickly Home Secretary Julia Montague. Budd is diametrically opposed to her politics – and to the callous way she treats people – although this doesn’t stop him from amorously responding when Montague puts the moves on him. But there are bigger machinations afoot, with a behind-the-scenes bid for the position of British Prime Minister, terrorism and counter-terrorism plots and corrupt party politics.
Bodyguard, a six-part British drama series, was released this year and picked up the highest BBC viewership figures in a decade. It’s a tense, multi-layered production which doesn’t shy away from hot socio-potatoes in contemporary Britain, with a cool and collected cast. Richard Madden (Robb Stark in Game of Thrones) as Budd elicits both sympathy and frustration from viewers as he battles his demons but can’t quite seem to get a grip, while Keeley Hawes as Montague exudes an attractive aura of power.
Support roles, such as Budd’s separated wife played by Sophie Rundell, and a disillusioned war vet played by Tom Brooke, are all spot on, and the settings in and around London are used to maximum effect. The script is nicely complicated, with a neat mix between personal and political drama.
But why, then, did I feel just a little bored by episode three? Halfway in and I was wanting things to move on a bit, for Budd to stop having panic attacks in his bedroom and start acting more like the King of the North, for Montague to bring out her inner bitch. The plot is twisty enough, and the pace is fine – but it just felt like it was slumping a tad come the mid stretch.
However, the final two episodes pull everything together in the most dramatic way, especially the OMG finale. Even though you assume Budd can’t die because he’s the star of the show, you’ve actually seen him being killed before in GoT so you’re not entirely sure …
British reviewers were well pleased with the series, with even The Guardian acknowledging its superior entertainment level and praising its two lead stars. And basically, apart from the slight slump in the middle, I’ve got to agree. Plus, it’s definitely got one of the most nail-biting openings seen in a long time.
PS: Richard Madden has just picked up the 2018/19 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama for his role in Bodyguard.