Netflix snaps up hit BBC thriller ‘Bodyguard’

The BBC now faces a fight to keep the show for a second series after Netflix bought the international distribution rights

Netflix has bought the rights to show the hit BBC drama Bodyguard outside of the UK and Ireland.

The show, which stars Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty), has provided the BBC with its biggest drama debut since records began.

More than eight million viewers watched the six-part series’ penultimate episode on Sunday (September 16).

The thriller, centred around a British home secretary and her protection officer, is due to be available on Netflix around the world next month.

News of Netflix’s acquisition arrived on the same day that the BBC director-general said the corporation must find more money to compete with US streaming giants.

Lord Hall of Birkenhead, The Telegraph reports, told an audience at the Royal Television Society (RTS) that government “raids” on the BBC must end. He also called for a public debate on how the organisation is funded, prompting the idea that the annual license fee may have to be increased.

“The cracks are beginning to show. More cuts have been taking place over a far longer period than any other in the BBC’s history,” Lord Hall said.

“While we believe the BBC’s public mission is as important as ever, we do not believe what we currently do is sustainable with the resources we have.”

Lord Hall added that Netflix’s £8 billion content budget and Amazon’s £5 billion far exceed those of British broadcasters, whose joint budget is £2.5 billion.

BBC in London – Credit: Yanice Idir / Alamy Stock Photo

As The Telegraph reports further, Netflix picked up Bodyguard at the script stage without knowing its future success. Jed Mercurio, who wrote the series, has said he has ideas for a second series and that the streaming platform would be interested in buying it.

But it’s not just the BBC and Netflix that look to profit from the popular TV drama.

The series was made by independent production company World Productions, which is owned by ITV. The commercial broadcaster has sold the rights around the world and will benefit from the deal.

ITV’s chief executive, Carolyn McCall, also spoke at the RTS event, saying that her company had made “quite a lot of money” out of Bodyguard (quote via The Guardian).

Meanwhile, people have reportedly been calling the phone number of protagonist PS Budd after he revealed it in episode five.

Bodyguard concludes with a 75-minute episode on BBC One this Sunday (September 23).