Jed Mercurio's Bodyguard grips like a vice, with no Whitney in sight

Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes star in the new BBC thriller series, Bodyguard.
Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes star in the new BBC thriller series, Bodyguard.
0
Have your say

It’s difficult, when thinking about bodyguards, not to picture Whitney Houston testing your eardrums while bellowing Dolly Parton songs to a stony-faced Kevin Costner.

Fortunately, Jed Mercurio, the writer of the acclaimed Line of Duty, is determined to wrest the concept away from leather-lunged warblers in diamante-studded spandex, and back into these confusing times.

Bodyguard (BBC1, Sundays, 9pm) didn’t so much explode onto our screens this week as stick your attention in a vice and slowly tighten it over the two hours of an opening double bill.

Mercurio’s MO – with Line of Duty and his earlier medical dramas Cardiac Arrest and Bodies – has always been sweaty tension in small rooms, people

facing each other over

desks, or operating tables, sparring over the rules, regulations and petty bureaucracies of our public services.

Watch the trailer for thrilling new BBC drama Bodyguard
But in Bodyguard, he has managed to open the drama up into big action set-pieces without losing that trademark heart-pumping drama.

Richard Madden plays David Budd, the bodyguard of the title, hiding PTSD from Army tours overseas with a blank-faced stoicism.

“What I have told you about crying?” he says to his bullied son.

“Never show weakness, they will only hurt you more.”

Meanwhile, Keeley Hawes is a firebrand Home Secretary, with ice in her brains and the hots for her bodyguard.

There are hints of a knotty conspiracy, and more than a nod to the paranoia thrillers of the 60s and 70s like The Manchurian Candidate and The Parallax View.

But this is vintage Mercurio, and I will always love him.

Something else which has a vice-like grip is alcohol, according to presenter Adrian Chiles in the absorbing doc Drinkers Like Me (BBC2, Monday, 9pm), about the effects of our booze culture.

The weather’s turned, and now Bake-Off is back (Channel 4, Tuesdays, 8pm) – all the reason you need to turn up the heating, throw on a onesie, break out the hot chocolate and settle in to wait for Christmas.