I have been totally amazed by the TV critics’ unequivocal praise for the latest BBC series; Bodyguard. Every single review I’ve read has been positive bordering on fawning. It’s almost as if the whole of the press has come together and decided to say nothing bad about it at all. Even the totally unrealistic fact that every significant role (except of course the eponymous hero) is female has been called “brave” by the Daily Mail of all papers. It may be brave, but it doesn’t work. It makes the whole thing look slightly ridiculous. It’s rather like watching a production of Romeo & Juliet at an all-girls school. And while I’m on the subject, how BAD is the actress who plays the head of the Met’s anti-terrorism squad? It feels like even she doesn’t believe the politically correct casting.
There is the basis for a really excellent, gripping drama here. Who doesn’t love a middle-aged woman suddenly finding herself thrust up against a wall by a young buck? But not by a young buck who sounds like a constipated Scottish Oliver Mellors. How many times can you say “Yes Ma’am” in one hour? And while I’m on the subject of dialogue; Mrs Durrell aka Keeley Hawes is her totally brilliant, scintillating, rather plummy self. And as a rather plummy woman of a certain age she WOULD NEVER, EVER SAY “unless you fancy a cuppa”. ‘Fancy’ is not, in her world, a verb. It may be acceptable as an adjective, but it’s really best avoided. I’m not even going to talk about ‘cuppa’.
Keeley Hawes is great and rather carries the whole thing. The young buck, Richard Madden, is hunky enough even without his bullet-proof vest to make their affair vaguely interesting. And who can resist the angst and the pain behind the brave, heroic exterior? Although having said that, much as I applaud anyone able to stop a suicide bomber, what if Nadia had decided to blow herself up along with him and the rest of the train, which by the way included his two small children? Was it really worth the risk?
I think this series is an opportunity missed. The storyline is too obvious, the dialogue not clever enough (although there was one brilliant line when Maddon’s boss tells him to ‘piss off’, echoes of Miranda Priestly in The Devil wears Prada) and it’s bloody annoying, not to mention cringeworthy, that we have to have some politically correct message constantly shoved down our throats.
Too much guard and not enough body. Back off Auntie…
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor in chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group. She writes a beauty blog www.beautyorbeast.uk.
Her third novel, The Arnolfini Marriage, based on a romance that evolves around a van Eyck masterpiece came out in 2016. As well as contributing regularly for newspapers and magazines, writing short stories and studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, Helena is also working on a thriller called Welcome to Smullö that will be published in spring 2020.
Her latest non-fiction work Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles came out in hardback in 2016 and came out in paperback in April 2018.
Helena was educated at Durham University and lived in the Languedoc region of France for eight years, where the family still have a home. She lives between there and London with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019