Bodyguard bowed out last night with a record-breaking bang, as Jed Mercurio’s thriller ended its gripping six-part run.
The series, which starred Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes, wound a tight path between the ridiculous and the ridiculously tense, as it saw Madden’s eponymous bodyguard, David Budd, work to uncover a conspiracy that threatens national security, and the safety of Hawes’ Home Secretary. After much speculation about how it would end, the show – which has achieved the kind of event TV status reserved normally for The Great British Bake Off or the World Cup – ended with its highest overnight audience of the series, concluding with an average of 10.4m viewers and a 47.8% share, reaching a peak of 11.0m viewers.
This makes Bodyguard the #1 non-World Cup programme of the year across all channels. It also means the episode is the biggest drama across all channels since 2011, and the biggest BBC drama since 2008. Bodyguard also attracted the highest young audience for any drama on any channel this year, with the finale attracting 1.3m 16-34 year olds (a 42.3% share).
Charlotte Moore, Director BBC Content says: “The finale of Bodyguard gripped the nation and has got everyone talking with a staggering peak audience of 11m on BBC One in a display of masterful storytelling from Jed Mercurio; while Episode 1 is already the biggest ever episode on iPlayer and still growing.”
Mercurio adds: “I’m completely stunned by the exceptional response to Bodyguard which reflects the star quality of our brilliant cast led by Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes and our outstanding crew led by producers Priscilla Parish and Eric Coulter and directors Thomas Vincent and John Strickland.”
Simon Heath, CEO & Creative Director of World Productions, comments: “At a time when we’re told that linear TV is dying, it’s been thrilling to see the number of viewers flocking to watch Bodyguard live. We’re so grateful for all their support”.
On BBC iPlayer, Bodyguard has also broken records with Episode 1 now the biggest episode of any programme ever on iPlayer with 7.3m requests so far. The series currently has over 24.2m requests across all six episodes, while the series finale helped drive BBC iPlayer’s biggest ever day of over 12.6m requests on Sunday 23rd September. Bodyguard will remain on BBC iPlayer exclusively in the UK as a box set for the next six months.
Bodyguard is biggest new drama on British TV in over a decade
5th September 2018
BBC One’s Bodyguard has started with a bang this autumn, becoming the biggest new drama on British TV in over a decade.
Bodyguard is written and created by Jed Mercurio, and made by World Productions for BBC One. Starring Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and Keeley Hawes (The Durrells), the series is set in and around the corridors of power. It tells the story of David Budd (Madden), a heroic but volatile war veteran now working as a Specialist Protection Officer for the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch (RaSP) of London’s Metropolitan Police Service.
When he is assigned to protect ambitious and powerful Home Secretary Julia Montague (Hawes), Budd finds himself torn between his duty and his beliefs. Responsible for her safety, could he become her biggest threat?
We hailed the series from the Line of Duty creator as “the most nail-biting piece of TV since, well, Line of Duty – and that’s just the opening 10 minutes”.
“Hawes is wonderfully ruthless and cool, while Madden clearly relishes the chance to take a lead role, his bodyguard perched on a knife edge between calm and total collapse,” we wrote, singling the show out as our Pick of the Week on BBC iPlayer. “With corruption, bitter former employees and rebellious movements in the wings, prepare to get hooked.”
Audiences certainly agreed, with Episode 1 receiving a consolidated figure of 10.4 million viewers, with a 40.9% share.
This is the highest launch figure for any new drama across all UK channels since 2006.
The seven-day consolidated figure for the opening instalment saw an increase of 3.6m on its overnight audience (6.8m), an impressive catch-up uplift of 54%. It’s the highest launch figure for a new drama on BBC One since at least 2002, when current records began.
On BBC iPlayer, Bodyguard has also broken drama debut records – with Episode 1 getting 2.2 million requests in its first seven days – and 3 million requests to date.
Mercurio says: “The success of Bodyguard is a tribute to the magnetism of our two leads, Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes. I’m exceedingly grateful to World Productions and to the BBC who have supported the project throughout production, and to the viewers who’ve responded with such enthusiasm.”
Bodyguard continues on BBC One this Sunday at 9pm. The first three episodes are all available on BBC iPlayer.
Trailer: Jed Mercurio’s Bodyguard bursts onto BBC One this August
13th August 2018
Jed Mercurio. A name guaranteed to get TV viewers’ pulses racing. With Line of Duty’s return still a long way off, the latest series from its creator and writer is only a couple of weeks away, as Bodyguard bursts onto BBC One.
Richard Madden (Game Of Thrones, Cinderella, Electric Dreams) and Keeley Hawes (Line Of Duty, The Durrells, The Missing) star in the timely six-part drama, produced by World Productions. Set in and around the corridors of power, Bodyguard tells the fictional story of David Budd (Madden), a heroic but volatile war veteran now working as a Specialist Protection Officer for the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch (RaSP) of London’s Metropolitan Police Service.
When he is assigned to protect the ambitious and powerful Home Secretary Julia Montague (Hawes), Budd finds himself torn between his duty and his beliefs. Responsible for her safety, could he become her biggest threat?
“A political thriller seemed like relatively fresh territory,” Mercurio told The Guardian in a recent interview. “There aren’t a lot of political dramas on TV, and those that are tend to be American. Plus, the idea of doing it from the viewpoint of a police protection officer seemed really interesting, and gave an opportunity to create real jeopardy.”
However, one thing that won’t be mentioned is Brexit.
“The one thing to avoid with this kind of drama is topicality, because of the timescales involved. Politics is a very fast-moving world and it can be months before the last version of the script even gets on TV so anything can change,” he added. “If you’re doing something set in the world of politics and you want to engage with Brexit, then that’s a different drama.”
Other cast members include Gina McKee (Line Of Duty, Our Friends In The North), Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders, Jamestown) and Vincent Franklin (Happy Valley, Cucumber).
Bodyguard will premiere on Sunday 26th August at 9pm, with Episode 2 airing on Monday 27th August. Episodes will then be broadcast weekly on Sunday nights.