2019 Emmys: Despite the Acting Snub for Richard Madden, ‘Bodyguard’ Clear Frontrunner for Outstanding Drama

Game of Thrones might seem like the obvious choice to win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series for its eighth and final season. But, the category is loaded with competition and some say that the BBC political thriller Bodyguard starring GOT alum Richard Madden is the clear frontrunner.

Richard Madden Bodyguard
‘Bodyguard’ star Richard Madden | Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

A groundbreaking series

British writer Jed Mercurio created and wrote Bodyguard, which ended up setting ratings’ records for the BBC. The show scored the highest number of viewers for a BBC drama in more than a decade, and in the new BBC multichannel era, Bodyguard is dominating the numbers.

11 million viewers watched the finale live on BBC One, and the ratings would be even higher for the series if the Netflix numbers could be included. In just six episodes, the show was able to deliver an intricate storyline that made it difficult to know who the heroes and villains were.

“There’s something about everyone being so morally ambiguous,” says Madden. “There’s no right or wrong, that’s what humans are: not the good guy, bad guy, hero, or villain stereotypes. Everyone has all of them in them at once.”

Bodyguard tells the story of war veteran David Budd (Madden) who works as the Principal Protection Officer, or PPO, for Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes). David and Julia are political opposites, but the two end up having an affair. However, the show isn’t just about their relationship.

It’s an “absorbing and addicting psychological thriller” says Rotten Tomatoes, that tackles topics like how the government can monitor private information, government regulations, and Budd’s struggle with PTSD. It also highlights how making assumptions and misjudging people has its own set of consequences.

Richard Madden’s Emmy snub

Even though Madden appears in almost every scene of Bodyguard and the series snagged a nomination for Outstanding Drama, Madden did not receive a Lead Actor nomination. Both critics and fans are crying foul over the snub, as Madden had already won a Golden Globe for the role.

“Very strange that #Bodyguard’s Richard Madden, a Golden Globe winner, couldn’t get an Emmy nomination. That seemed as much of a lock as you can be. #Emmys,” wrote Philiana Ng from Entertainment Tonight.

In addition to winning the Golden Globe, Time magazine called the former Game of Thrones actor one of 2019’s “100 Most Influential People.” And, Madden also received excellent reviews for his work on Rocketman. But, apparently, the Television Academy just wasn’t impressed.

Still, Bodyguard was impressive enough to become the first BBC show in nearly 50 years to receive a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series. The last time that happened was in 1972 when The Six Wives of Henry VIII received a nomination.

A win for Bodyguard might make Madden’s snub a little bit easier to handle. Mercurio says that Madden is the reason the show is a hit, and the actor had a lot of input in how he wrote the show.

“The work starts in pre-production, talking with the actors and directors about the scenes and the character arcs. That’s an opportunity for us all to collaborate. If it leads to a rethink or a dialogue change, then I’ll go back into the script and make those changes,” explained Mercurio.

Richard Madden is also part of the MCU

Game of Thrones fans know Madden as Robb Stark, who met his demise after the Red Wedding in Season 3. And now, Madden will be working with Kit Harington again in the upcoming Marvel movie The Eternals. After Marvel announced at D23 that Harington was joining the cast, Madden said he was excited about the news.

“It’s brilliant,” said Madden. “It’s been about 10 years since we’ve worked together, I think. So we’ve moved on a bit onto different things, so I’m really excited to get back on set.”

Madden and Harington will be part of an ensemble cast that features Angelina Jolie, Selma Hayek, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, Brian Tyree Henry, and Gemma Chan. But, just because Madden will be a Marvel superhero, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be a Season 2 of Bodyguard.

Madden says that he and Mercurio have talked about what they could do in Season 2, but they felt it was best to wait a couple of years before they revisited David Budd considering what happened at the end of Season 1.

BBC hasn’t picked up the show for a second season just yet, but Mercurio has revealed that he has big plans to turn Bodyguard into a franchise that will run for multiple seasons.

Bodyguard Season 1 is available for streaming on Netflix.

The Primetime Emmy Awards air Sunday, September 22, on Fox.