Broadcast in 1996/97, Bodyguards starred Louise Lombard and Sean Pertwee as Close Protection Agents Elizabeth Shaw and Ian Worrell. The opening episode, scripted by series creator, Jeffrey Caine, sets up the series parameters.
Liz Shaw (a nod back to Pertwee Snr’s Doctor Who?) is an experienced protection agent, whilst Ian Worrell is one of a number of new recruits. The newbies are put through the mill by the intimidating Commander Alan MacIntyre (John Shrapnel). MacIntyre’s unorthodox approach is made clear right from the start, after he calmly informs Worrell that he’s placed a bomb under his chair. You might expect that it was a fake bomb, but no – it was real (as demonstrated when it later explodes harmlessly in a sand bucket).
Worrell’s keen, but can he be relied upon? His training results are inconclusive, but MacIntyre takes a chance on him. Pertwee exhibits a nice stillness during these early scenes, his piercing eyes telling their own story.
As might be expected, both Shaw and Worrell are isolated figures – Shaw is cold-shouldered by her old colleagues after she leaves Special Branch to return to protection duties, whilst Worrell takes a call during training which quickly sketches out the fact that he’s divorced/seperated and struggling to maintain a relationship with his young child.
Plenty of familiar faces appear in this opening episode. Josette Simon (Blakes 7) and Stefan Kalipha (For Your Eyes Only) guest star as two foreign VIP’s who come under the protection of Shaw and Worrell. The likes of Geoffrey Beevers, Julian Coy, Trevor Cooper and Terence Harvey also pop up.
Although billed first, Lombard somewhat plays second fiddle in this one to Pertwee – Worrell’s journey from loose cannon to trusted team member is the main focus of the pilot. Shrapnel, as the uncompromising MacIntyre (he threatens horrible reprisals to the first person to call him “guv”!) impresses hugely. And there’s plenty of action, explosions and gunfire along the way. A solid opener.