Bodyguard whodunnit: our guide to the suspects

Was it the neatly coiffed assistant? Did the prime minister have a hand? Or was it poor, gormless David? As fans reel from the twist of the year, we name the likely players


10. Vicky’s new boyfriend
Hmm. The protagonist David’s ex has a new boyfriend, you say? He is as yet unseen, but mentioned in every episode so far? Just let me check my Little Book of Foreshadowing …

Yes, I see possibilities here. Writer Jed Mercurio’s good, but even he may not be able to break the statutory narrative law stating that the hero retains equitable interest in his ex’s vagina even after bedroom rights have terminated. What’s more, dramatic justice dictates that the new partner must turn out to have been an unwise choice on her part.

9. The person in the dossier

Document folders on wooden background
Who is the person in the dossier? Photograph: Getty/iStockphoto

Could it be the subject of the secret file delivered to home secretary Julia Montague at her hotel – after the first assassination attempt – by the security services (who have been wiping its CCTV footage as they go). This is the one she kept reading in her room in between banging/being strangled by poor, confused David?

We’ve been able to catch snippets of it and know that the named person has been involved with drugs and “a serious sexual assault”. Maybe “penchant for thwarting potential leadership bids in the most dramatic way possible” was in there, too, but she was too distracted by the hot bod under the protective vest next door to peruse her documents as thoroughly as she might. Girl, we’ve all been there.

8. Roger Penhaligon

Chief whip and ex … Nicholas Gleaves as Roger Penhaligon.

Julia’s former husband, who is the chief whip, hates her on a personal and professional level for her vaulting ambition. Also, if I may go off on a tangent for a moment, you don’t cast Nicholas Gleaves if all you’re going to do is give him two lines and a mardy expression. More is surely coming.

Roger is loyal to the PM and would have been keen to stop Julia’s leadership bid – but by these means?

7. Tahir Mahmood

‘If you hear hooves, think horses’ … could it be aide Tahir Mahmood?

Maybe we’re all overthinking this. Maybe it really is Julia’s aide, the man towards whom most of the evidence currently points. As one of the consultants in Mercurio’s NHS masterwork Bodies once said to a doctor reaching for an obscure diagnosis: “If you hear hooves, think horses – not zebras.”

Or maybe we’re not overthinking it enough and this is Mercurio’s backwards double, triple-axel bluff: Tahir did it because we all think it’s so obvious he’s being set up. But David says he checked the briefcase (more of which later) and when the police played footage of the explosion frame by frame, it looked more like it was coming from under the stage than from the case.

Tahir was thoroughly vetted, of course. But perhaps he is secretly resentful of his role as a piece of Muslim window-dressing for a home secretary taking a hard line on terrorism. Or is that yet more overthinking?

6. Nadia

Usual suspect? Nadia, the train bomber.

This is a touch too boringly plausible, given the infinitely entertaining times we live in (so entertaining that they include a rolling argument about whether you can only ask your opponents to “call off the dogs” if they have literally set a pack of slavering hounds upon your person). And so the possibility must be noted: Julia could have been killed by the people who tried to bomb episode one’s train.

I actually suspect Nadia. I think she became maddened beyond endurance by David’s eleventy-billionth earnestly patronising “You’re doing really well” during their train toilet face-off. He was even worse during his police station questioning of her in the most recent episode. God knows what she’s going to do in the next instalment.

5. Chanel Dyson

Chanel Dyson

Hell hath no fury like a spin doctor scorned. Imagine wearing heels and having a hairdo like that every day, then getting fired by a boss you already hated? Julia got rid of her parliamentary aide after one too many cock-ups and Chanel left in high dudgeon – and, possibly even more relevantly, an SUV driven by a man eagle-eyed viewers later spotted as one of the members attending the veteran soldiers’ group. You know, the meeting in which David met the friend from his time in Helmand who reminded our hero of their pledge – or was it mere spleen-venting rhetoric? – to kill any of the bastards that sent them over there if they got the chance? And who then provided the pivotal moment of episode two by trying to assassinate the home secretary before turning the gun on himself?

I know. It’s all go. Short version: another member of a totes emosh group could have planned to finish what his mate started.

4. The security forces chaps

Stephen Hunter-Dunn

Stephen Hunter-Dunn and Richard Longcross appear to have some sort of murky arrangement with Julia (see dossier and footage-wiping in 9). And, well, one of them’s named Stephen Hunter-Dunn, the head of MI5, and you know the rule: never trust the double-barrelled. Come the revolution, hyphenates are first against the wall.

3. Anne Sampson

Anne Sampson

The head of Metropolitan police counterterrorism, furious at being cut out of the investigations into the train attack, has perhaps found a way to restore her professional pride. Acting home secretary Mike Travis reinstates her and she is soon happily sitting on evidence brought to her by lovely DCI Sharma in order to protect her restoration of the status quo. Dodgier and (bearing in mind that she also got David unofficially spying on Julia for her) dodgier.

NB: It is also a travesty of history that Gina McKee – with her icy precision, dead-yet-ceaselessly-probing eyes and coolly searching intelligence – has never yet been cast as a serial killer. Perhaps Mercurio is making amends.

2. David Budd

David Budd

He may love shagging her – he may even love her – but he hates himself for it because he hates everything Julia stands for. This is a potent cocktail of emotions even if you aren’t a former soldier enduring PTSD, nightmares and fugue states who has been ordered to spy on his beloved/hated one by Gina McKee and her unsettling eyes.

So did he see a bomb when he looked inside Tahir’s briefcase? Did he attempt suicide because he was guilty of facilitating murder – or because he failed to do his job? How out of his right mind is he now? And how out of his right mind has he always been? More importantly, do we wish actor Richard Madden looked slightly less gormless when required to do Studied Impassivity in between the action sequences? Or are we OK with it?

1. Julia Montague

Julia Montague

She’s not dead! We didn’t see her on the slab, after all. We didn’t even see her body being tenderly covered with a sheet by emergency services workers as they loaded her into an ambulance. So by the rules of televised fiction, all bets are off. We saw only the “bad news” being communicated by doctors (“I’m sorry …”) to her ex-husband and her mother – and even this was at some distance down a corridor.

We’re a sophisticated audience. We know that’s not definitive. It could be a fake-out to protect Julia. This would be a bit harsh on David, whose suicide attempt would then mean that he wasn’t in on it at all (though it was nice of her to think ahead and arrange for MI5 to search his house for contraband weaponry and replace his bullets with blanks in case he went down that road). Or maybe it’s an attempt to draw out her enemies, be they governmental or religious extremists. Is that a reach? An absurd proposition? Or is it perfect?

Just two more episodes until we 10 million rabid drooling fans find out. COME ON!


Lucy Mangan

The GuardianTramp

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