The creator of the smash-hit BBC drama Bodyguard has gone on record to brand Northern Ireland “fantastic” for filming, while here with another production.
Jed Mercurio, a former hospital doctor, RAF officer and son of Italian immigrants, is currently in Belfast for filming with his police drama.
“We are shooting series five of Line Of Duty now, we have been shooting for three weeks. We are shooting right up until Christmas and then the series should be on BBC One early next year.” he told Good Morning Ulster.
“We have had a fantastic experience shooting in Northern Ireland. We have had amazing hospitality. It is also a very filming-friendly area.
“The permissions to shoot, the support you get from the local community is second to none. And I would certainly recommend Northern Ireland as a shooting location for anybody.”
With the first series of Bodyguard having just finished to critical and popular acclaim – almost 11 million viewers watched Sunday’s finale – he was asked if there would be another series.
“We are just starting those talks with the BBC. It is fantastic that there has been such a great response, but it is still too early to say.”
Asked what made Bodyguard so successful, he said: “I think sometimes it is just the timing, sometimes it is just the case, but we are all incredibly grateful and certainly I am really surprised by the way that it took off.
“All you can do is your best job on the production and then you are kind of in the lap of the gods.”
And he acknowledged that it has put appointment television back on the map in an age of on-demand viewing.
“Well, we are delighted that people got caught up in the series and what we saw was that with each episode people felt that they couldn’t wait, that rather than catching up and being behind the conversation they felt a pressure to watch live.
“And so the proportion of our audience watching live went up as the series went on and I think that shows that there is still an appetite for appointment-to-view television.”
He added: “I think that what is unusual about Bodyguard is the way in which it started so strongly. Normally series take a little while to gather momentum and certainly that was our experience with Line Of Duty, which of course started on BBC Two.”
Asked if the Bodyguard themes of ‘deep state’ and ‘wheels within wheels’ were a key factor in the series, he replied: “I think that one of the strengths of the series was the fact that it was set in the world of politics which was something that we don’t often see in dramas. And we added to that a kind of police procedural thriller that we were looking at a protection unit that protects high-ranking politicians. And I think that there was something quite fresh about that.
“The other thing is the magnetism of the leads, Richard Madden as bodyguard David Budd and Keeley Hawes as the home secretary. I think those are the things that really captured people’s imagination.”