Richard Madden helps us get to the bottom of Bodyguard’s popularity | Rebecca Nicholson

Is anyone truly being offended by sexy dramas featuring men with some of their bits out?

According to a report in the Economist, Europeans are becoming increasingly prudish. Nudist beaches and resorts just aren’t as busy as they once were. More and more people say they’d prefer not to swim in the buff.

A number of explanations are offered for this new wave of buttoning up, but one chicken-and-egg suggestion is that it’s because of growing self-consciousness among younger people, as well as the near-constant presence of camera-equipped smartphones.

Having made the careful decision, after much soul searching, to consciously uncouple from Love Island in 2018, I feel a deep sympathy for people not watching Bodyguard, the BBC’s biggest hit drama in years, which has become such a talking point that the internet is starting to look like a Jed Mercurio fanzine. The focus of the most vocal Bodyguard-related chat has been Richard Madden’s bum, not just for oglers with a rapid-response finger on the pause button, but for viewers arguing that there’s too much sex and nudity on television.

Like the Netherlands turning its back on nude saunas, some viewers of sexy dramas are claiming to be fed up with seeing men without their clothes on. Those expressing frustration at a quick flash of Madden’s behind were likely to also cite exhibit B: Aidan Turner with his top off in Poldark; and exhibit C: Tom Hiddleston with his bum out in The Night Manager, as other times when they were blindsided by gratuitous male nudity.

After a lifetime of seeing gratuitous female nudity on screen in all sorts of improbable scenarios, it’s hard not to feel that those offended by a grand total of three examples, since 2015, of men getting some of their bits out might need to calm down, dear, but it’s been a topsy-turvy kind of week when it comes to gender equality.

When the BBC’s new political show Politics Live launched with a panel that didn’t have any men on it, some responded to the shock of not seeing men at all, even with their tops on, with accusations of gimmickry, being “too PC” and comparisons to Loose Women.

After years of seeing all-male panels on television shows, it’s hard not to feel that those offended by the “tokenistic” inclusion of a former home secretary, the shadow foreign secretary and three highly experienced political journalists might also need to take a deep breath. I’m just holding out for an all-nude Bodyguard/Politics Live crossover, to see if Twitter can cope under the strain.

Inventor of the red carpet whodunnit

Ronan Keating and Storm Keating at the GQ Men of the Year Awards.
Ronan Keating and Storm Keating at the GQ Men of the Year Awards. Photograph: Ricky Vigil M/GC Images

On his Magic FM breakfast show (who knew? I thought Magic FM only existed in 3am taxis so drunk people could happy-cry to power ballads), Ronan Keating brought up a fellow celebrity’s behaviour on the red carpet at last Wednesday’s GQ awards. He told listeners an unnamed woman had pushed her way to the front of the queue of famous people. “You wouldn’t mind if there was one of these American publicist people going, ‘Out of the way, excuse me.’ But no, on her own, on her tod, walked straight in,” he said.

Keating and co-presenter Harriet Scott gave some clues to her identity: she’s a British actress in a blockbuster about “something like a pivotal moment in world war two” and she was wearing “this kind of flowing Bollywood-style dress”. This set up The Red Carpet Incident as a mystery to be solved, with several outlets examining all available evidence and deciding that perhaps Kate Beckinsale fitted the profile. Beckinsale has not yet commented, but was spotted “looking glum” as she got on her flight back to LA, presumably because the Boyzone singer had publicly implied that she might be a bit rude.

All the fuss reminded me that, like thongs and 10p Freddos, you don’t see many stories like this any more. This is an age of constant surveillance, which makes bad behaviour harder to hide, and there are fewer opportunities to try to work out which A-lister had an affair with which D-lister, but then cheated on them with the driver. Keating briefly revived the dying art of frivolous speculation. You could say that he, ahem, said it best when he said nothing at all.

Now with extra stretch appeal

Victoria Beckham performs the hussy extension.
Victoria Beckham performs the hussy extension. Photograph: @victoriabeckham/Instagram

Anyone with a working knowledge of Spice World: The Movie, and by “working knowledge” I mean the entire script learned by rote, will know that Victoria Beckham, then Adams, was the funniest Spice Girl.

She recited slightly soggy jokes about her obsession with clothes in a perfect deadpan, and seems to have been born with impeccable comic timing, which more than makes up for her not getting a solo line on Wannabe. She showcased that same GSOH on her recent family-based Vogue cover, making an accompanying parody video, A Decade of Elegance, in which she cracked jokes about having issues with microphones being turned off. Posh Spice 4 ever.

I suspect a similar dry-witted humour in Beckham’s popularising of the ballet-inspired “hussy extension”, which has become an Instagram trend. The pose, which involves lying on the floor and holding one leg up at an impossibly straight angle, has taken off, as other famous people follow in her leg-steps to show their inhuman stretchiness, developed by years of hard work and private pilates lessons. Beckham is clearly entering the absurdist phase of her career, as few can even attempt the hussy without their joints clicking in weary protest.


Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Richard Madden: ‘I don’t like the look of me in the mirror’
Bodyguard made him a star – but he hasn’t always been comfortable as the lead. He talks about bullies, his inner ‘fat lad’ and new Elton John biopic Rocketman

Miranda Sawyer

04, May, 2019 @9:00 AM

Article image
Jeffrey Katzenberg: why working from home was the death knell for Quibi | Rebecca Nicholson
The short-form streaming platform was aimed at commuters, just as commuting was disappearing from most of our lives

Rebecca Nicholson

24, Oct, 2020 @4:30 PM

Article image
Tracee Ellis Ross: giving voice to a heroine for the pandemic era | Rebecca Nicholson
Daria Morgendorffer’s buddy Jodie grows up, thanks to the Black-ish star

Rebecca Nicholson

27, Jun, 2020 @3:30 PM

Article image
Paul Mescal: normal, yes, but swelteringly, blisteringly hot | Rebecca Nicholson
The actor has been seen out and about in shorts and shades: what’s not to like?

Rebecca Nicholson

30, May, 2020 @3:30 PM

Article image
That’s quite enough silly walks from BBC comedy. New voices please | Rebecca Nicholson
The head of the corporation’s comedy department has promised us greater diversity. About time too

Rebecca Nicholson

23, Jun, 2018 @1:01 PM

Article image
Sorry, Ridley Scott, we just don’t think it’s safe to go back into the cinema | Rebecca Nicholson
The Last Duel director has blamed flighty ‘millennians’ for his latest epic film tanking, but maybe we’re not blockbuster-ready

Rebecca Nicholson

27, Nov, 2021 @3:00 PM

Article image
Meet Sharon Carpenter, an exemplar for wannabe celebs | Rebecca Nicholson
She’s a safe pair of hands who asks the questions and fills the airtime

Rebecca Nicholson

11, Feb, 2018 @12:05 AM

Article image
Why is it Hugh Grant gets to improve with age? | Rebecca Nicholson
The actor says his parts have grown more varied in recent years. If only his female colleagues could say the same

Rebecca Nicholson

19, May, 2018 @5:00 PM

Article image
Julia Roberts: No Met ball bubbly? There's always the bath
With New York’s glitziest fashion event in lockdown, people rose to the occasion on social media

Rebecca Nicholson

09, May, 2020 @3:00 PM

Article image
Ellen DeGeneres: should we judge her by the company she keeps? | Rebecca Nicholson
Mixing with George W Bush doesn’t exactly enhance her liberal credentials

Rebecca Nicholson

12, Oct, 2019 @2:43 PM