Bodyguard smashes record for most-watched TV drama episode

The finale of Bodyguard has become the most-watched episode of any drama since records began in 2002, according to the BBC.

Its popular political thriller, starring Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes, was watched by an audience of 17.1 million across 28 days, the broadcaster said.

The figure was calculated using Barb’s updated four-screen measure, which was introduced in August and now includes data for those viewing programmes through online non-TV devices such as PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes in Bodyguard (Des Willie/BBC)

The 28-day consolidated figure for the dramatic finale – without accounting for online non-TV devices – is 15.9 million, a figure the BBC said is still the highest audience for a drama programme since current records began 16 years ago.

The viewing figure of 17.1 million is also the largest audience recorded for a TV programme that was not a sporting or national event since 2010, the BBC said.

The Jed Mercurio-created series is also BBC iPlayer’s most successful box set, with more than 38 million requests so far.

Earlier in October, the finale of the BBC One series was revealed to have become one of the top five most-watched programmes of this decade, based on seven-day consolidated viewing figures.

It scored a huge television audience of 14.34 million, according to data which included those who recorded the episode and watched it up to seven days later.

The finale, which aired on September 23, drew an average of 10.4 million viewers in the overnight ratings.

The series followed troubled bodyguard and police officer David Budd (Madden) and his relationship with controversial Home Secretary Julia Montague (Hawes), who was killed halfway through the series by a bomb.

We do feel very privileged and fortunate that there's been such a response that it gives us that opportunity to at least think about doing more

The nail-biting finale tied up the loose ends in the TV whodunit, revealing that thwarted terrorist Nadia Ali was the person behind the fatal bomb.

Mercurio has hinted at a second instalment of the series, telling The Sun:  “If the ratings hadn’t been quite so high, then possibly everybody involved, including the BBC, would have said, ‘Well that was a nice little series but we’re just going to leave it at that and there won’t be any more'”.

“We do feel very privileged and fortunate that there’s been such a response
that it gives us that opportunity to at least think about doing more.

“We would probably approach any thoughts of a second series with the idea that it would create the opportunity for a third or fourth.'”

- Press Association

Join the conversation - comment here

House Rules for comments - FAQ - Important message for commenters


Most Read in Showbiz