Bodyguard: Counterterror police seek recruits inspired by watching hit BBC show

Zamira Rahim

Counterterror police are hoping that popular drama Bodyguard will inspire a new generation of recruits – but warn that the thriller diverges from the reality of life as an officer.

The BBC show follows a personal protection officer who is assigned to protect an ambitious home secretary, played by Keeley Hawes.

It has been hailed as the biggest British television drama in a decade and police have noticed that the show has triggered a surge of visits to the UK's counterterror recruitment website.

"We have seen thousands of people visiting our recruitment page as a result of Bodyguard and although the drama stretches reality to the limit, the programme does capture the passion and drive of our officers and staff as they work to keep the public safe," said deputy assistant commissioner Lucy D'Orsi, the UK's most senior female counterterror officer.

But Ms D'Orsi also said that she was disappointed by the show's portrayal of hostility between the police and MI5, adding that in reality the two work "hand in glove", especially during terror incidents such as the Manchester Arena attack.

The force has also tried to capitalise on the popularity of Bodyguard by tweeting during episodes.

"My day-to-day life bears no resemblance to the programme," said Detective Chief Inspector Steve Ray, who protected Theresa May when she was home secretary.

Mr Ray said that large teams worked to protect key figures, unlike the fictional David Rudd, the lone officer played by Richard Madden, who protects the Home Secretary in Bodyguard.

"It's fair to say you wouldn't last long in our team if you cross the line to form too close a relationship with the principal you were protecting," said Mr Ray.

A record audience is expected to watch the Bodyguard finaleon Sunday and the show will then move to Netflix, through which international audiences can tune in.

Press Association contributed to this report