Jed Mercurio Interview: ‘Bodyguard’ creator
“We wanted to meld the political thriller with the cop show,” reveals writer/creator Jed Mercurio about his acclaimed hit action drama “Bodyguard.” Ever since it became a ratings powerhouse for the BBC last year, the show has won over critics and audiences globally on Netflix, and is often heralded for its propulsive pacing and high tension storytelling. “To hear things like ‘I forgot to breathe’ or ‘I just couldn’t move from my TV,’” Mercurio says, “is so thrilling to have that kind of response.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Mercurio above.
In “Bodyguard,” Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) plays Sergeant David Budd, a heroic army vet police officer thrown back into the front line, assigned to protect UK Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), a high profile politician that he despises. The series is a tense and riveting portrait of a man suffering with debilitating PTSD in a world plagued by terrorist threats. It has been a huge success locally and internationally, as it twists and turns over six dynamite episodes to a conclusion that many do not see coming.
“Bodyguard” opens with Madden’s character on a train right before a terrorist threatens to detonate a bomb. The show explodes out of the gates and the tension is ramped up to eleven from the get-go. “It was designed to dramatize the character’s backstory in the most dynamic way by making his relevant backstory come out in the present, in a high stakes, high jeopardy scenario,” Mercurio explains. ”
So what we find out about the character over the course of those 20 minutes, in a very focused and intense sequence are all the relevant points; he’s a father of young children but the mother is absent at that point, he’s a police officer and he’s a can-do, brave guy. And then we find out that he’s got his own issues. He served in the Middle East and he has empathy for victims of the conflict over there and has a real antagonism towards the politicians who ordered those campaigns. So all of that information comes out over the course of that time and it leads us to believe that possibly this is a kind of maverick, impulsive and maybe unstable guy.”
As we follow the characters over the course of the season, audiences are forced to work out who to trust and who root for in a plot that twists and turns quite unexpectedly. “Across each episode we swing the pendulum in one definite direction so that by the time you finish the hour of viewing you have a different view of the character and the show and of the main plot points that you had at the beginning of the hour,” he reveals.
“We play that card in every episode. We want to create the biggest possible swing in sympathy and allegiance.” This is most jarring when it comes to Budd, the show’s leading man. “He’s the hero and the villain encapsulated in one character. He’s not a square-jawed hero who is going to protect the politicians at all costs,” he says. “He’s a traumatized individual and he actually fits the profile of the kind of person who might be the biggest threat to the politician.”