When doing a little canvass with Americans about their favorite British TV series right about now, you might chance to hear, other than seminal legendary sci-fi show “Doctor Who” or the more recent “Sherlock”, a new drama-political thriller on BBC One entitled, “Bodyguard”. Being a UK show already means it is no remake of a certain American film starring Kevin Costner and the late Whitney Houston, but in only six episodes it tells a gripping and suspenseful story with a super-hunk of a British leading man. After holding the UK under its spell, being acquire for streaming by Netflix has introduced “Bodyguard” to a pleasantly surprised and giddy worldwide audience.
Part of the show’s appeal is, as mentioned, its male lead star. Richard Madden is a familiar face to international viewers for portraying no less than two distinct faces of royalty in this decade. Younger fans might recall him as the squeaky-clean Prince in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s “Cinderella” in 2015; but the rest of the demographics will recall him better as Robb Stark, flawed medieval lordling and short-lived King in the North from HBO’s “Game of Thrones”. “Bodyguard” sees him as a War on Terror veteran and London policeman who becomes the titular bodyguard to the British Home Secretary, and who also comes off as a sex god.
Indeed Madden, who plays London Met-Pol Protection Command Sgt. David Budd, sets the series on white-hot fire with his smoldering performance as a PTSD-ridden modern warrior who still unconsciously exudes charisma that even one of the highest officials of the British Parliament would enter into a relationship with him despite his being a separated husband with children. Furthermore, it happens in spite of their conflicting ideologies: Budd’s disillusionment of British interventionism and Home Secretary Julia Montague’s (Keeley Hawes) hardline anti-terror approach, which verges on curtailing civil liberties for greater security.
How the two even met to begin with is one of the strongpoints of “Bodyguard” according to audiences and reviewers. While taking his children home on the train when he successfully foils a would-be suicide bomber, saving the passengers and keeping the suspect alive for arrest. This earns him a reassignment to Protection Command, the Metropolitan Police branch that handles Royal and Official body-guarding duties. That scene was a first-episode super-extended cold open before the title appears almost a half-hour later, and is lauded as a great introduction to Budd and his set of circumstances.
No sooner does he start providing protection for the UK Home Sec when he stumbles into a plot or conspiracy that seems hell-bent on stopping Montague’s ambitious agenda to replace the Prime Minister in government. Madden is masterful in showing Budd’s handling of his inner conflict between doing his job and allowing a firebrand politician’s ascension, even as he gets ordered by his superiors to actually spy on his objective to see if her connections to the more shadowy intelligence agencies over public services has some sinister undertones to them.
But really, despite the ensemble cast the spotlight is almost always on Richard Madden as David Budd. Who can resist his very distinctive accent, even in a setting where all accents are distinctive and not just because they are all British? With his security principal being a woman, expect Budd to say “Ma’am” a lot. That word out of his lips will drive so many to wish they could either drag him out of the TV screen – or jump inside – just to have their way with him; or maybe let him have his way with them? Either way, Madden has just made Budd his new definitive character role next to Robb Stark and Cinderella’s Prince.
Finally, American viewers are greatly appreciative of BBC’s one-and-done storytelling that completes the narrative of “Bodyguard” in its six episodes, totally unlike the American series model of always leaving plotlines to dangle at season’s end in hopes that the show will be extended. And while rumors abound that “Bodyguard” actually is being considered for a second series, this speculation is not yet set in stone.
“Bodyguard” is available for streaming on Netflix, and I say that series alone is worth subscribing to the service for.
Image courtesy of BBC