Jed Mercurio fears Bodyguard star Richard Madden has become too big for

Television viewers and BBC executives would be delighted to see a second series of Bodyguard, the political thriller currently drawing in record audiences on Sunday nights.There is only one problem: the drama has turned Richard Madden, its lead actor, into such a star that he may be too busy fending off film offers to reprise his role.Jed Mercurio, the Bodyguard writer, said he would “absolutely” like the show to come back next year, but the project depends on Madden.“He’s the genuine article, a real leading man. And I think this role has put him very much in the spotlight for bigger things. So the practicality may be that we have to work round his availability, if we are lucky enough to get him back,” Mercurio said.Inevitably, after impressing in an action thriller, Madden has been touted as the next James Bond, as was James Norton when he appeared in the BBC’s McMafia. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Madden previously starred in Game of Thrones and his next role is as Sir Elton John’s manager in Rocket Man, a biopic of the singer.He recently expressed concern that viewers may regard him as “hunky” because “it undermines that actually I’m an actor, and I’m trying really hard to be good at it”. “But, with my work, I like to try to do things that move the story on, and with Bodyguard I wanted to have this event mid-series that would completely alter the dynamic.“I remember watching TV as a kid and, whenever there was some sort of jeopardy involving the hero, I could reassure myself that they were what I’d call a ‘can’t-die’ character, so everything would be OK.” Mercurio said he would not countenance bringing back Madden for a second series then killing him off in the first episode. “I’d rather not because it would leave a massive hole,” he said.However, he appears to have done just that with Keeley Hawes’ character, the Home Secretary Julia Montague. The announcement of her death in last week’s episode shocked fans, who had been gripped by her romance with Madden’s personal protection officer.Explaining why he had decided to pull the rug from under the audience, Mercurio told Radio Times: “I think there’s a certain expectation with series TV that it will always orbit around an equilibrium, in which nothing much changes for the main stars, and there are no drastic changes to the set-up, especially now things tend to run for several series. Bodyguard scored the highest launch ratings for any drama since 2006, with a consolidated audience of more than 10 million.Sunday’s episode was watched live by an average audience of seven million. Its ITV rival, Vanity Fair, drew less than three million. read more