Mercurio fans in safe hands with Bodyguard

City of London Police” (CC BY 2.0) by André Gustavo Stumpf

Television fans are reaching for the remote more often than ever, and fans of writer Jed Mercurio might choose Bodyguard as a quick hit to watch on Netflix.

The Line Of Duty writer spun this six-part police thriller amid the roaring success of his hit anti-corruption drama starring Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar and Vicky McClure. To say that LOD has generated a cult following would be an understatement.

Like Bodyguard, the series was commissioned by the BBC, and it first went to air in 2012. In all probability, few involved could have forecast the immense success that would be generated from the endeavours of Anti-Corruption Unit 12.

Work has started on Season Six of Line Of Duty as Steve Arnott, Kate Fleming and Ted Hastings continue their hell-bent assault on going right to the top in their desire of uncovering and thwarting a ring of ‘bent coppers’. If you’ve not become a convert yet, the series is highly recommended. If you’d like to take a smaller sample first, then Bodyguard will serve as a fine aperitif.

Mercurio’s edge of the seat writing ability comes to the fore within moments of the off here. The series’ central character Sergeant David Budd (Richard Madden) of London’s Metropolitan Police Service finds himself on a hijacked train returning from Scotland.

Episode one sees Budd, an armed forces veteran prone to suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, thwarting this particular threat as his negotiation skills and calm allow him to talk down a would-be suicide bomber. For his actions, Budd’s reward is to be detailed as Principal Protection Officer of Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), who is the British Home Secretary.

Despite Budd’s clear opposition to some of Montague’s stances on foreign policy, choices that had sent him to war, his professionalism dictates an eagerness to carry out his duties to the letter of the law (Ted Hastings would be proud) – but, as with any Mercurio production, things are quickly twisting and turning in directions the officer couldn’t foresee.

FILM SET ON CAPEL STREET [THEY MAY BE AC” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by infomatique

All the while in the background, Sergeant Budd is fighting against a home life that has crumbled upon his return from Afghanistan ‘a different man’. Can he align his disdain for the political decisions that sent him into battle against the determination to protect Montague in the face of an ever-increasing threat seemingly emanating from the very government in which she serves?

Budd’s character is nothing short of intense. His life experiences surely make it thus. His skillset and the excellent portrayal by Madden have resulted in the Scottish actor being touted as a potential future James Bond. Madden would be the first Scot to land the role since Sean Connery’s outstanding stint ended.

His performance as David Budd suggests Madden would be a canny James Bond, a match for any fiend he would meet. Daniel Craig, who is preparing to give up the role, cut his teeth as Bond in the 2006 production Casino Royale and given the lead characters’ fondness for the high life by participating in a memorable on-screen game of poker. Perhaps Madden might prepare for that possible role with some free spins on the Rainbow Riches online slot game which will expire at the moment Sergeant Budd gets his next mission.

With just six one-hour episodes, Bodyguard is the perfect pitch for a quick-hit series – and the gripping nature of the plot, as well as the excellent performances from Madden and Nina Toussaint-White (DS Louise Rayburn), are likely to result in a binge watch that shouldn’t take more than three sittings. It ranks as another superb collaboration from Mercurio and the BBC, as the writer continues to make the police thriller genre his speciality.

Whether you are a Line Of Duty devotee patiently waiting between seasons, or uninitiated in the ways and suspense of Mercurio’s work, Bodyguard should have you gripped from start to finish.