Sex, Violence and BBC iPlayer

Having heard so much about them from friends and seeing streams of good reviews online, I sat down last week and decided, before all the deadlines kick in, it was time to indulge myself in the BBC’s most talked-about series.   After clocking some impressive TV time, I can confirm: Bodyguard and Killing Eve are compelling, thrilling and, most of all, pretty sexy.

I watched episode 3 of Bodyguard with my family, having not watched either episode 1 or 2.  Like most people, watching a sex scene with my mother sat next to me on the sofa made me feel adequately uncomfortable; but I was initially disappointed with what I had just watched.  As the BBC 10 o’clock News chimed the headlines, I confessed to my family that, to me, Bodyguard was just another sensualised BBC drama with a car chase and a very attractive naked man, all with the aim of attracting viewers.

I really couldn’t have been more wrong.

Arriving back at university where everyone seemed to be waiting in anticipation for Sunday’s episode, I subjected myself to generously giving the naked Richard Madden his second chance.  It was the fair thing to do.

Bodyguard tells the exhaustingly thrilling and enthralling story of PPO David Budd, in his job protecting the Home Secretary. Richard Madden is captivatingly complex and the script, although occasionally sensational and a tad unrealistic, is beyond gripping.  There is no denying the sexual nature of some of the scenes, to put it lightly, but it transpired that seeing Madden’s unclothed physique really wasn’t too much of a hardship. The writing is deeply cynical and sceptical towards our governmental institutions, politicians and officials.  The audience, much like the characters, dare not afford an episode’s worth of trust in anyone.  In these tense political times and with the devasting effects of terrorism which we have become worryingly accustomed to, it is a captivating and, at times, an all too plausible watch.  If you, like me, had your doubts or have been living under a boulder-shaped pile of university reading, take a break and watch Bodyguard.  But do not anticipate a relaxing sojourn from the library.

Having mercifully given Bodyguard a chance to prove itself, my belief in BBC drama was firmly restored.  Last night, I self-sacrificially took myself off to watch Killing Eve, a cat and mouse tale of a female assassin and an MI6 investigation to bring her down. Perhaps 6 or 7 hours later, I emerged, bleary-eyed, feeling completely bowled over by the huge talent of the three females involved in this series:  Sandra Oh, who played MI6’s Eve Polastri, Jodie Comer, as Villanelle (or Oksana) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the mastermind behind the script.  The writing is deliciously dark, sprinkled with ironic humour and the timing and pace of every actor is perfection. Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer’s relationship is beautifully precarious, augmented by the thrill of the chase. With the appearance of tampons and a tube of Canesten, Killing Eve is scattered with a few but fundamental feminist nuances which felt like a real breakthrough moment in television.  Yes, it really does feel radical and progressive to watch female norms captured without embarrassment or unease.   Fragranced with tones of sex, danger and mystery, this series, as demonstrated by my Wednesday evening binge, is delectably watchable.

Sex, violence and lots of car chases: a winning concoction for Sunday night viewing. The talented writing that the BBC are fortunate to have within their walls makes for some unmissable television.