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Bodyguard becomes most watched BBC drama since 2008


Story by Jack Foley

THE climax of Bodyguard has become the most watched BBC drama since 2008.

The thriller kept an average of 10.4 million viewers on tenterhooks as the series drew to a close on Sunday (September 23), with the audience reaching a peak of 11 million in its final five minutes.

The overnight ratings also make the show, created by Line of Duty‘s Jed Mercurio, the most watched drama of the year so far.

What’s more, it’s the biggest overnight drama figure since 10.5 million saw Downton Abbey‘s series two finale in November 2011.

No BBC drama has drawn a bigger audience since Doctor Who, whose Christmas Day episode in 2008 was seen by 11.7 million people.

The most watched programme of 2018 so far is ITV’s broadcast of England’s World Cup semi-final against Croatia, which drew an average audience of 24.3 million.

And the stats for Bodyguard keep on coming. In addition to all of the above, the show attracted the highest young audience for any drama on any channel this year, with the finale attracting 1.3m 16-34 year olds (42.3% share).

On BBC iPlayer, Bodyguard has also broken records with episode one being the biggest episode of any programme ever on iPlayer with 7.3m requests so far. The series currently has over 24.2m requests across all six episodes, while the series finale helped drive BBC iPlayer’s biggest ever day of over 12.6m requests on Sunday.

Bodyguard will remain on BBC iPlayer exclusively in the UK as a box set for the next six months.

Charlotte Moore, Director BBC Content, commented: “The finale of Bodyguard gripped the nation and has got everyone talking with a staggering peak audience of 11m on BBC One in a display of masterful storytelling from Jed Mercurio; while episode one is already the biggest ever episode on iPlayer and still growing.”

A delighted Bodyguard showrunner Mercurio added: “I’m completely stunned by the exceptional response to Bodyguard which reflects the star quality of our brilliant cast led by Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes and our outstanding crew led by producers Priscilla Parish and Eric Coulter and directors Thomas Vincent and John Strickland.”

And leading man Richard Madden – who played the show’s ex-soldier turned protection officer David Budd – retweeted a thank you from the BBC to everyone who was watching the “epic finale”.

He also posted a picture of himself in bloody finale episode make-up, still attached to a suicide bomber vest, and holding a pint, to his Instagram account, writing: “Blown away by the response to #Bodyguard. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who’s watched and supported the show it’s truly overwhelming. I’m so proud to have been part of the amazing talented team that worked so hard to bring this story to life. Cheers!!”

As yet, it is not clear whether there will be a second series. But Mercurio did offer some hope by telling the BBC: “We’re just starting those talks, it’s still too early to say.”

Read our verdict on the series