It’s rare to find a TV programme so good that I set a date in my mental diary to watch it live. Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, the occasional sporting event. Everything else gets streamed. Even Bake Off (although only since it moved to Channel 4).
But Bodyguard, currently showing on Sunday nights at 9pm on BBC1 (there, that shows you how much I love it – I have no idea what time or day Bake Off is on anymore), is date TV.
For me, there are personal reasons to love it, exemplified by the fact that when we were watching last week, my husband turned to me and said, “Rach, are you sure you didn’t write this?” It’s got a lot in common with A House Divided, but of course that’s not the (only) reason I love it.
So here are the five reasons why I think Bodyguard is unmissable TV.
1. That Opening Scene
Our living room was silent during the opening fifteen minutes of episode one. Talk about grabbing the viewer by the scruff of the neck and hanging on to them for dear life!
The opening scene was one of the most dramatic and tense that I can remember seeing on TV. The acting was excellent. The tension palpable. And not only did it kick the story off fast, it also gave you an excellent impression of the kind of man PS David Budd is – both professionally and personally. All done through action, not dialogue.
And the writing – well, I’m going to be checking all my opening scenes from now on to ensure they’re as tight as this one.
2. The Plotting
Story is the crucial thing in TV, film, and novels. Without a great story to keep the reader gripped, they’re just going to switch off or put the book down, or in the case of the movies, walk out of the multiplex wishing they hadn’t wasted their money.
Bodyguard is a great example of a plot that runs through an entire series but with mini-plots or themes in every episode.
And every episode has a twist. Sometimes one so massive that the internet erupts into righteous anger when the Radio Times puts a spoiler on its cover.
A thriller TV series, in my view, has to have a big twist or plot progression in every episode. And Bodyguard does that every week.
3. The Characters
Seeing Keeley Hawes playing the Home Secretary gave me a bit of a buzz, as you’ll know if you get my newsletter later this week. But it wasn’t her performance that stood out, it was Richard Madden’s. Who’d have thought that the sexy, brooding David Budd was played by the same man who gave us the dull, anodyne Robb Stark in Game of Thrones? If he’d put in a performance like this (and maybe worn his hair differently), then perhaps we’d all be obsessing over him and not Kit Harrington.
(Please don’t send me an angry tweet if you thought Robb Stark was the best thing since sliced bread, we’ll just agree to disagree.)
But Keeley Hawes’s character, Julia Montague, was interesting too. Not as nice as I’d have liked her (I’d have appreciated some softer edges), but a great example of a powerful woman who is also troubled by things we only get a glimpse of.
The relationship between the two of them burns slowly but surely, and lights up the screen once things get going.
And then there are the people around them – dependable coppers, scheming politicians, two-faced advisers and the war between the Metropolitan Police and MI5. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
4. The Tension
Those guaranteed twists mean that I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for something awful to happen each week. And the writer’s courage in killing off a main character (no names – spoilers, sweetie) raises the tension even more.
No one is safe. And just who is behind the attacks and the plotting? We have a variety of theories in our house, which change every week, but are gripped by the prospect of a revelation.
5. The Steaminess
I couldn’t miss this one out, really. The sex scenes between Budd and Montague become more and more steamy as things progress. I have to admit, I was wondering if the guard posted outside the hotel bedroom door was deaf.
In A House Divided there are clandestine meetings in hotel rooms but they don’t progress like this. Sorry!
So that’s what I love about Bodyguard. The final episode is on this Sunday and you know where I’ll be…