Richard Madden plays the Home Secretary’s Personal Protection Officer in Jed Mercurio’s new BBC drama Bodyguard – but he already knows just how impressive real bodyguards can be.
Speaking on set at a mocked-up Home Office in an empty Uxbridge office building, he recalls an exciting (but disorientating) experience in Mexico.
“I was doing press for Game of Thrones many moons ago,” he says, “and I had a bodyguard in Mexico City, about six foot five, a female bodyguard. She was just huge. And we were at an afterparty one night after some premiere, and a fight broke out.
“My feet didn’t touch the ground. She had me up, out, and in the back of a car, into the footwell in the back of the car after this fight. Because it was Mexico City, there were guns and everything, and I just didn’t know what had happened.
“But I was just thrown into the back of the car and the door wasn’t even closed before we were off. Which was quite exciting – but I spilled my drink!”
Having had “a few” bodyguards in his time (including one in Rio “that had been shot about four times and showed me all his gunshot wounds”), Madden was pretty clued in when he was cast as PPO David Budd.
In Bodyguard, he is a war veteran who is newly assigned to Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes). He must protect her from all potential dangers, constantly scanning for threats and searching her home and even deciding the route of her car.
From his own experience, he knows how weird that can be.
“It was quite a bizarre thing of just being shadowed the whole time, and knowing that someone’s got their eye on you, and doing it in a way that is completely invisible,” he explains. “And you just have no idea.”
Bodyguard begins on Sunday 26th August at 9pm on BBC1
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news