Follow TV Tropes


Series / Bodyguard (UK 2018)

Go To
Julia Montague and David Budd

Sergeant David Budd: My job is to keep you safe ma'am, I won't tell you how to do yours.
Julia Montague: No, but you're happy to make it harder.

Bodyguard is a British BBC One/ITV drama series, created and written by Jed Mercurio (showrunner of the critically acclaimed BBC police series Line of Duty). Starring Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes in leading roles, the first episode aired on August 26, 2018 with a rating of 10.40m viewers in the country; the series went on to become the biggest new BBC drama in at least a decade. It's also released worldwide (except Britain/Ireland) via Netflix.

The show focuses on Sergeant David Budd, a Metropolitan Police Protection Command bodyguard and former British Army soldier. After successfully foiling an attempted train bombing, he is promoted to lead the security detail of Julia Montague, the Home Secretary. Montague, a controversial figure in British politics due to her support of legislation that would intrude on civil liberties and hardline approach to tackling terrorism, is the opposite of Budd ideologically.

He has become critical of British intervention overseas after experiencing war firsthand, and has now been entrusted to protect someone whose views he despises.

Meanwhile, senior members of the Metropolitan Police, including Commander Anne Sampson of Counter Terrorism Command and Chief Superintendent Lorraine Craddock of Protection Command begin to grow suspicious of Montague's activities, especially her preferences towards the more secretive MI5 Security Services, and instruct Budd to begin spying on her, testing his loyalties further.

It's not to be mistaken for the same name of another TV drama made in Malaysia and released in the same year.

The series provides examples of the following:

  • Action Girl: Knowles is the only female officer in Protection Command. Several female CTSFOs are also seen.
  • As Himself / Newscaster Cameo: Both The BBC's Andrew Marr and Laura Kuenssberg appear in-universe.
  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: Being written and created by the same guy who made the surprisingly accurate Line of Duty, the show is full of UK police procedural acronyms, only some of which are explained on screen or inferrable from context.
    • AFO: Authorised Firearms Officer, a police officer trained to use guns.
    • ARV: Armed Response Vehicle, police cars carrying teams of three armed officers that are stationed around London ready to mobilise in the event of a terrorist attack, such as the one attempted at the school.
    • CTO: Counter-Terrorist Officer, specially trained in fighting terrorism.
    • CTSFO: Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officer, the grey clad armed response team who attends the attempted train bombing in the first episode. They are the highest level of armed officers in the UK in terms of training.
    • EOD: Explosive Ordnance Disposal. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • EXPO: An Explosives Officer, specially trained in dealing with IEDs and other explosive devices.
    • Kompromat: Compromising Material.
    • MAST: Mutual Aid Support Trained, officers who have undergone specialist additional tactical training. The armed surveillance team who track and help to foil the terrorist attack on Budd's childrens school are MAST operatives.
    • PNC: The Police National Computer used to store information (including car registrations and mugshots) and cases.
    • PPO: Principal Protection Officer, the title given to Protection Command officers such as Budd and Knowles who work details protecting cabinet ministers such as Julia Montague.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The bar at which David meets with Chanel for a "date" turns out to be owned and run by Luke Aiken and is of course part of the Honey Trap.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: David. He's an honourable and committed police officer, but his PTSD makes him strangle Julia when she wakes him, and he comes close to shooting Aikens in anger.
  • Big Bad: Nadia, of all people.
  • Big Good: In the end, Sampson. She's the (on the whole) supportive leader of Sharma and Rayburn, encourages David to get theraputic help, tries to prevent security without oversight, and leaks the Prime Minister's wrongdoing (including a past sexual assault). She's not perfect, but she's the lightest grey of the senior officials.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • The Metropolitan Police ARV that pulls in front of the school and immediately opens fire on the terrorists approaching truck, causing it to veer off the road and crash before it can reach the school gates. Unfortunately, a timer detonates the payload once the truck is surrounded by armed officers, killing 5 of them.
    • Constable Daniel Chung, who works with Budd to disarm the suicide vest placed on him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Although Julia dies, David's future seems hopeful. He's getting the mental health he needs and reintegrating with his family, including his estranged wife.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Where do we start...
    • In the opening scene we see the CTSFOs ready to give a "critical shot" to a suicide bomber who is clearly not wanting to go through with it.
    • Julia seemingly really does want to make the country a better place but has some rather twisted views on how to go about it including spying on absolutely everyone and blackmailing the Prime Minister.
    • David and Andy Apsted both despise the politicians like Julia who sent men like themselves off to their deaths. Andy is prepared to kill Julia and anyone around her.
  • Blackmail: Montague is given a tablet by a mysterious man named Richard Longcross, which contains compromising information (regarding cocaine addiction and alleged sexual assault) on either the Prime Minister himself or somebody close to him. She has Budd drive her to Chequers, and confronts the PM unannounced. The next morning, it's announced that the government will undergo a cabinet reshuffle, putting Montague closer to taking over as Prime Minister.
  • Blame Game: After each major event in the series, each major organization is eager to point out how their counterparts failed to prevent a major terror attack. In the culmination of the story, the crooked police superintendent and her drug lord accomplice nearly succeed in pinning several acts of terror on David, the person with the cleanest unclean hands.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Julia has one for David, which he reciprocates.
  • Bomb Disposal: During the standoff on the train in the first episode, Budd keeps demanding that the CTSFOs allow a bomb disposal officer on board the train to deactivate the vest Nadia is wearing, instead of following their orders to shoot her. They eventually give in and allow the officer on board, who is able to remove Nadia's vest and deactivate it.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Why does Nadia feed the information about David's kids to the terrorist cell, and more to the point, why do they even bother acting it? Just to be arseholes, it seems, and more importantly, to give David grounds to realize that Nadia is not the victim she appeared to be.
  • Book Ends: Episode 1 starts with Budd defusing an attempted suicide bombing on a train. Episode 6 features several Call Backs to Episode 1, including Budd being strapped into a near-identical suicide vest, the suicide bomber being revealed to be the evil mastermind all along, and the reveal that Budd's promotion as a result of his handling of the situation was a setup by Craddock to make him a Fall Guy all along.
  • Britain Is Only London: Other than a trip to Chequers (and Oxford), it's set in and filmed almost entirely within central London.
  • British Brevity: Six episodes and done.
  • Bungled Suicide: Distraught at Julia's death and his failure as a PPO to protect her, David attempts to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head with an illegal pistol he keeps hidden in his apartment. He is unsuccessful however, as it is revealed that somebody gained access to his apartment and replaced the bullets with blank rounds, resulting in only a ruptured eardrum, a painful burn and cuts from the copper casing shrapnel.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: During the Thornton Circus sniper attack, Budd requests immediate armed backup to attend, but they keep getting delayed in reaching the location, causing him to take action and evasively maneuver the car out of the sniper's line of sight and confront the shooter himself. Montague blames Sampson for the ARV delay, believing she purposefully ordered them to stay back as revenge for Montague showing preference to the Security Services over SO15.
  • Clear My Name: David is forced to do this in the closing episodes as it looks increasingly likely that he is The Mole within the police.
  • Code Name:
    • Julia Montague, the Home Secretary, is referred to by Protection Command as "Lavender".
    • Mike Travis, Montague's junior Minister of State for Counter Terrorism, is known as "Indigo".
    • The Counter Terrorism Command division of the Metropolitan Police is also known by its codename "SO15".
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Subverted. During the sniper attack on Montague's ministerial car, the bulletproof glass only prevents two shots from penetrating the driver's window, with the third managing to penetrate the weakened glass and kill her driver. Budd then tells her to stay low, as the sniper bullets will eventually penetrate the glass but won't be able to get through the car's armour plating.
  • Danger Deadpan: David and the other response officers provide lots of this.
    David: *having just bundled a corpse out of the car, driving backwards, under sniper fire, with a terrified passenger shrieking in the back* You're doing great, ma'am.
  • Debate and Switch: A great deal of the conflict is about whether or not Julia is right to introduce a surveillance bill. Ultimately, the people opposed to it have conspired to kill her and plenty other innocent people besides, so it's left as a moot point.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • DCI Sharma and DS Rayburn suspect Budd of being involved in the eventually successful attempts on Montague's life, given that he was the lead officer on her detail during both the attacks. However, they are unable to gather enough evidence to prove it.
    • CS Lorraine Craddock is the real deal, in the pocket of organised crime after Budd forces Dyson to call out Aiken.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A government Chief Whip (Roger Penhaligon) being an stuck up ass to a police officer (Budd), then immediately realising he might have said something that could be construed as very offensive bares many similarities to the real life Plebgate controversy, although within the show the comment is more race related than class related.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: As well as saving many lives, David manages to prove his innocence by uncovering the people behind the conspiracy, finally starts to deal with his mental problems and begins to reconcile with his wife.
  • Friendly Sniper: The SCO19's Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers' sniper deployed during the train hijacking to cover the assault element.
  • Gambit Pileup: As is usual for conspiracy thrillers, there are several stratagems running headlong into one another.
    • Mike Travis' plan to publicly discredit Julia Montague to force her to back down on RIPA-18
    • Julia Montague's plot to blackmail and take the place of the Prime Minister using her own Sinister Surveillance, complete with collusion from MI5 who are anxious to share in the spoils
    • Luke Aiken trying to assassinate Julia in order to stop her and RIPA-18 in their tracks
    • And of course Nadia's trolling of Budd and the rest of the police, misdirecting the origin of the bombs
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Emotionally distraught, Julia seeks comfort from David and they fall into this after the Thornton Circus incident.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: David sports a great deal of scars across his back, whereas Andy has much more prominent scars across his face.
  • Go Through Me:
    • Believing that one of the train bombers, Nadia, is willing to give herself up without setting off the device, Budd embraces her so the CTSFO officers and sniper are unable to shoot her without shooting him also.
    Sergeant David Budd: You're doing really well, Nadia. That gun is an MCX carbine, a bullet from that would go through the both of us, but I'm trusting they're not going to shoot one of their own.
    • When she believes him that he's being set up, David's wife runs out in front of him while he's wearing a suicide vest to prevent him from being killed.
  • Government Conspiracy:
    • Commander Anne Sampson believes that Montague is working in secret with the Security Services to undermine the government and police, replace the Prime Minister and infringe on civil liberties, so she and Chief Superintendent Lorraine Craddock give Budd orders to monitor and record all her meetings with MI5 officials.
    • However, when Montague is killed in the St. Matthews College bombing, it is suggested that elements of the government, such as MI5 Director-General Stephen Hunter-Dunn, Chief Whip Roger Penhaligon and Counter Terrorism Minister Mike Travis conspired to have her assassinated when she went against their plans and blackmailed the Prime Minister into organizing a reshuffle at her own volition.
    • Budd becomes convinced something is afoot when he discovers (painfully) that someone gained access to his apartment and switched the bullets in his hidden gun with blanks, and that the hotel security footage from when Montague was visited by the mysterious Richard Longcross has been altered to remove all trace of him.
  • Job Title: Take a wild guess what the profession of The Hero is.
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • Between Budd (Protection Command) and the CTSFOs from Specialist Firearms Command in the first episode after they stormed the hijacked train. Budd tries to defuse the situation so nobody is killed, but the armed officers have orders to kill the bombers if they can, and are only prevented from doing so by Budd placing himself between them.
    • Even more so between Counter Terrorism Command and MI5, who are at each others throats regarding who gets custody of and is able to interview the captured train bombers. Commander Anne Sampson and Director-General Stephen Hunter-Dunn have a particularly frosty relationship, with Sampson accusing MI5 of being nontransparent and conspiring with Montague to get RIPA 2018 passed, and Hunter-Dunn accusing the Metropolitan Police of both incompetence and leaking information to terrorists.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: David Budd is a modern-day take on this trope, or at least seems to be most of the time... he veers towards Knight in Sour Armor when it comes to politicians like Julia although he still ends up in a Rescue Romance.
  • Literal Metaphor: Constable Kim Knowles, working security in front of a crowd of angry protesters, says she can deal with all the screaming but "it's the eggs that are getting on my tits." "On my tits" is British for "on my nerves," but the front of her shirt has in fact been splattered with eggs.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Metropolitan Police, the Office of the Home Secretary, the MI5 are all supposed to be civil servants with the best interest of the public in mind. But behind the scenes, they show themselves to be quite ruthless with their own personal and professional goals at the forefront of their priorities and showing a certain disdain for the general populace.
  • Moral Pragmatist: Parties on all sides are willing to lie, sneak, spy, and manipulate to get the outcome they want, all claiming it's for the good of national security.
  • My Greatest Failure: David is ultimately unable to prevent a fatal attack on Julia and, combined with the Survivor Guilt, the suspicion of others - as well as breaking his own personal and professional principles - leads to him trying to take his own life.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Shown in August/September 2018, set in October/November 2018.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The place where the sniper attack on Montague's car takes place is a fictional area of London called Thornton Circus.
    • Julia is MP for the fictional constituency of Thames West, the name of which suggests it is somewhere in southwest London.
    • Averted in the second episode with the action taking place in the real districts of Brixton and Camberwell.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: David saving Nadia is the first domino in the chain that nearly destroys his life.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: How Budd is able to talk down Nadia, the reluctant would be train bomber in the first episode.
    Sergeant David Budd: You've been brainwashed. He has, you have, and I know. I was in Afghanistan, some mates got killed, I nearly got killed myself and for what? Nothing. Politicians, cowards and liars. Ours and theirs. People are full of talk, but would never spill a drop of their own blood. But you and I? We're just collateral damage. Don't let them win Nadia. Don't let them win.
  • Once an Episode: Various shots of Central London with radio broadcasts playing over the top, often featuring the voices of real newsreaders and political correspondents from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Absolutely averted with Montague's driver. When the sniper shoots him, the entire car is covered with his blood and brain matter.
  • Red Herring:
    • The plot between Mike Travis and Rob MacDonald against Julia. They merely intended to make her look stupid on stage to make her back down on RIPA-18 and had no involvement at all in the bombings.
    • Anne Sampson in the finale. She is deeply uncomfortable with Deepak investigating Aiken, and is evasive when he observes that she was once in charge of the Organised Crime Unit; her behaviour leads Deepak to observe that Aiken has avoided prosecution due to police connections. In this context, her confrontation with Travis and Hunter-Dunn comes across as a minor Villainous Breakdown and her attempts to negotiate with Budd come across as deliberately hostile. The Dirty Cop turns out to be Craddock all along.
  • Rescue Romance: One develops between Julia and David, hours after he saves her from a sniper.
  • Sex–Face Turn: David hates Julia for sending him (indirectly) to war with her hawkish policies. Julia is an Iron Lady who doesn't really care what he thinks of her. After they have sex, both fall in love very fast and ally together, planning for their romance to go public in a matter of days.
  • Shadow Archetype: Andy for David. Both are soldiers struggling with PTSD who hate Julia and the government more generally for their deployment in what they see as a pointless war, their comrades' deaths, and their trauma. While David falls in love with Julia and acts on the side of the good guys, Andy goes back to his sniper training and tries to kill Julia before being killed himself.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Montague is the leading force in trying to pass an update to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (dubbed RIPA 18) through Parliament, which would allow the government unwarranted access to the public's data and internet activity without judicial review. It's Julia's apparent willingness to freely use information gathered this way to further her political career that makes her a potential target by rival politicians.
  • SWAT Team: Metropolitan Police CTSFOs are brought into the train hijacking in the first episode after Budd was able to get the conductor to call it in. Later on, they're brought in to cordon Budd after he calls 999 in due to having a suicide vest strapped on his chest.
  • There Are No Therapists: Consistently averted, with many people urging David to seek professional help in order to deal with his PTSD - but he turns down any offers of assistance. Until the very end of course at Sampson's recommendation.
  • Villain Team-Up: The ultimate plot to kill Julia, between Luke Aiken's London gangsters and Nadia's jihadi cell.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Julia readily presents herself as one of these. At least she says she's well intentioned...
    • So does Andy, the sniper who tries to kill Julia, insisting that he's doing it to stop other people from dying in her wars.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The second episodes reveals that the sniper who opened fire on Montague's ministerial car was Budd's old Army friend, Andy. He also turns the pistol on himself, deciding to not be arrested.
    • The third episode ends with a bomb going off on stage as Julia delivers a speech in support of RIPA 2018, leaving her fate uncertain.
    • The fourth episode starts with a BBC report that Julia died of massive injuries. In addition, Budd's illegal Makarov has been replaced with blank ammo instead of actual 9x18 Makarov ammo.
    • The sixth episode ends with Craddock outed as Aiken's mole in the MPS, the latter arrested as the mastermind as well as Nadia being outed as a real jihadist. Sampson is implied to have leaked Julia's compromising material to the BBC.
  • Wire Dilemma:
    • Subverted by the EXPO in the first episode who doesn't disarm the suicide vest but simply asks the wearer to let go of the detonator and then cuts the straps off.
    • Played with for the final bomb vest which is built with both a dead man's switch and detonators wired to the straps. The EXPO explicitly states it won't be defused by cutting a wire - disabling it requires jumping the control board and only then can the wires to the battery be cut.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The suicide bombers, naturally. It's David's desire to protect his children from the suicide bomber on the train that leads to him successfully talking her down.
    • Exaggerated in the second episode with a ram-attack-cum-bomb on the playground of the school David's children attend. Almost successfully thwarted by The Cavalry, since none of the children die.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: An ARV places itself between the terrorists and a school, stopping them from running their lorry into the playground whilst simultaneously riddling the driver's cab with gunfire. It doesn't prevent the bomb going off however.