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TV Quickfire: Keeley Hawes & Richard Madden on BBC thriller Bodyguard

Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes star in new BBC drama Bodyguard. Gemma Dunn finds out more about this fictional story of a war veteran assigned to protect an ambitious Home Secretary.

Keeley Hawes as Julia Montague and Richard Madden as David Budd in Bodyguard

RICHARD, YOU PLAY DAVID BUDD, A FORMER WAR HERO NOW WORKING FOR THE ROYALTY AND SPECIALIST PROTECTION BRANCH OF THE LONDON MET. HOW MUCH DID YOU KNOW ABOUT BEING A HIGH-PROFILE BODYGUARD BEFORE THE SERIES?

Very little; the nature of their job and their character is they give very little away. So I had very little to go on, which was quite interesting, because it gave me a chance to get into the head of him as a husband and a father, and that side of things.

With David, it was more about being a soldier who had been through a lot – that's where I started to build up where he was, as a young man who went to war.

HE SOUNDS LIKE AN INTRIGUING CHARACTER TO PLAY?

I was attracted to the contradictions within this man – a man who deeply cares and wants to protect, but who also has these strong political opinions that get in the way of that.

So I was attracted by someone who is constantly fighting with himself, but with this inherent good in him.

DAVID ALSO SUFFERS FROM PTSD. HOW DID YOU APPROACH THE SUBJECT IN A RESPONSIBLE WAY?

Funnily enough, it's very hard to get people to talk about PTSD, so that was a struggle to begin with. I've got a couple of friends who were in the army, and even just to get them to talk about their experiences was very difficult.

So we worked together to balance it out, but I think sadly it's still a very untouched-upon subject for a lot of people.

KEELEY, DID YOU TAKE INSPIRATION FROM ANY OF OUR FEMALE POLITICIANS TO PLAY HOME SECRETARY JULIA MONTAGUE?

At the time [of filming], Amber Rudd was home secretary, so parallels were always going to be drawn. I'm not playing Amber Rudd – that wasn't what we were going to do – but she's a very good example and she was brilliant for me to research.

It's fascinating, actually. It's changed my ideas of politicians, as silly as that sounds. I ended up listening to a podcast on Radio 4 that Amber Rudd's sister was giving, and she was talking about Amber's upbringing – a side we don't often see when we look at our politicians.

IS THAT LEVEL OF PROTECTION SOMETHING YOU WOULD STRUGGLE WITH?

I don't know why you would choose it. It's awful. It's different for me because I have three children, so I can't imagine something like that taking over my own life.

But yeah, you just give yourself over and I think that would be the only way to deal with it. You can't live normally, but at the same time [you'd] be incredibly grateful because you are at risk every day.

HAS WORKING ON THIS SERIES MADE YOU MORE SYMPATHETIC TO THOSE UNDER SCRUTINY?

Yes, I think so. It's not popular to say that you're sympathetic to politicians, but I'd like to think that most politicians have gone into those roles because they want to make a difference, and they're doing what they do for the right reasons, regardless of what we may think of those reasons or their opinions. You can only do that job if you really believe in change.

LINE OF DUTY, THE DURRELLS AND NOW BODYGUARD IS QUITE A VARIETY: HAVE THINGS CHANGED FOR YOU IN TERMS OF THE ROLES YOU'RE BEING OFFERED?

I'm very lucky that, particularly after Line Of Duty, people have been more imaginative in terms of casting me. Maybe they've realised that I am willing to go to places that maybe they thought I wouldn't.

:: Bodyguard is on BBC One on Sundays, catch up with episode one now on iPlayer.

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