The Bodyguard is the British TV drama smash of the late summer. It has been the biggest scripted launch on British TV since 2006 and has knocked ITV’s big drama Vanity Fair, scheduled at the same time on a competing channel, off the charts.
The first episode had a staggering 40.9% viewing share in the UK with 6.7M overnight viewers, adding up to 10.4 million viewers with BBC iPlayer viewers added.
The Bodyguard, created by Line of Duty writer Jed Mercurio (and featuring a few of the cast from that show) tells a story of a British government subject to a terrorist campaign as a result of their activity in the Middle East – but with British ex-soldiers playing a part in a number of the attacks.
And the loyalty of the David Budd, played by Game Of Thrones‘ Richard Madden, in question. Especially when he is assigned as personal security to the Home Secretary, Julia Montague played by Ashes To Ashes and Line Of Duty‘s Keeley Hawes, and has an affair with her.
The realism of this conceit has been questioned, naturally, but it is far more based in reality than some may have realised.
In 2011, PC Paul Rice was fired from his job as a police officer after it was discovered that, while he was personal protection officer to then-Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP, he had an affair with Johnson’s wife, Laura Johnson and Alan’s constituency assistant Tracy Windle at the same time. Johnson was Home Secretary from 2005 to 2010, one of the most senior positions in the British government, alongside Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary.
Alan Johnson, then Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer stepped down from the shadow front bench as a result, citing ‘personal issues in my private life’. They later divorced in 2014 after a twenty-three year marriage.
With Hugh Grant starring as Jeremy Thorpe in the equally unlikely A Very English Scandal based on his attempts to have a male e-lover assassinated to protect his reputation as Leader of the Liberal Party, it is worth remembering that generally truth is far stranger than fiction. Even if sometimes it doesn’t have quite as firm a buttock.
So… anyone fancy telling the story of Prime Minister John Major and Health Minister Edwina Currie?