Whitney Houston's real minder says 'Richard Madden is a much better bodyguard than Kevin Costner'

Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) was sensationally killed in last week’s episode of political thriller Bodyguard.

And, suspicion finally shifted from DS David Budd (Richard Madden) who, consumed with rage after losing the woman he was protecting — and bedding — went rogue in his hunt for the real culprits.

The fast-paced drama might seem far-fetched, but it has drawn high praise from David Roberts, the Brit who protected Whitney Houston from 1988 to 1995.

They parted company after he tried to stop the drug-taking that eventually claimed her life.

Their relationship was the basis for 1992 film The Bodyguard, which starred Whitney as stalked singer Rachel Marron and Kevin Costner as the man who would take a bullet for her.

Whitney’s version of I Will Always Love You was the movie’s theme tune.

Although David, 66, was the inspiration for Kevin Costner’s character, he tells ROD MCPHEE why the TV series is the superior thriller — and why DS Budd is a better bodyguard.

"I can still remember the moment in 2012 when news of Miss Houston’s death flashed across the TV screen in my Florida home — and I found myself overwhelmed by pure anger. Because the gifted superstar I had protected should not have been dead at 48.

"And she might still have been alive if someone had succeeded where I had failed and stopped her going on such a perilous path.

"What I witnessed on last night’s penultimate episode of Bodyguard was that same raw emotion in DS David Budd.

"He is now past the shock of seeing the death of his 'principal', Home Secretary Julia Montague. But the once-disciplined protection officer is overcome with rage and a sense of guilt that led him to attempt suicide.

"Sounds unbelievable? Not at all. Your one job as a bodyguard is to protect. When you feel you have failed, the effect is devastating.

"DS Budd’s well-observed reaction is just one of the characteristics of the BBC thriller that has impressed me over the past five weeks.

"This is a drama which is clever, intriguing, action-packed and well-acted. It is not perfect and obviously they have used plenty of dramatic licence. But it is authentic in so many ways.

"For a start, Richard Madden’s character is a better, more authentic bodyguard than Kevin Costner’s was.

"He is far from perfect though. Far too young in my opinion, with far too much of a trouble past. He has so many physical and emotional scars.

"But DS Budd comes over as a disciplined, thorough police protection officer — and that’s perfect. It’s just how a bodyguard should be.

"In fact, Richard reminds me more of myself than Costner ever did. Not just because I was a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police’s royalty and diplomatic protection department, but also because of his fitness and a certain steeliness and no-nonsense approach.

"You have got to be in charge to do that job.

"Costner tried to do the same, but the Americans just did not convey that same level of discipline.

"The fact that DS Budd had an affair with the Home Secretary might seem far-fetched.

"But I have known it happen in the protection industry. It is natural that you can develop an association because there is this intimacy and closeness, and you are with them every waking minute of their day.

"Miss Houston and I were incredibly close. I remember she once slipped a note under my hotel door saying, 'We will always love you'. But with us it was not romantic or physical. I was more of an uncle figure to her.

"It is in the smaller details that Bodyguard really impresses me though. And creator Jed Mercurio has obviously done his research.

Where do we go now?

"Last night we saw Julia’s aide Rob Macdonald slammed in an arm lock, which was perfectly executed.

"And inside her ministerial car, DS Budd had a second mirror fitted in the front passenger seat to allow him 360-degree vision.

"That was something I always insisted upon when I was guarding Miss Houston. The team behind Bodyguard have obviously moved with the times, too.

"It is interesting that people have commented on the “unrealistic” number of women in powerful positions in the police and in politics. That struck me too, but then I was working in that sphere 30 to 40 years ago, the world was a different place.

"I think they have made one or two glaring mistakes, however.

"During the assassination attempt at Thornton Circus, there is no way a sniper on top of a multi-storey building could have hit the driver in the head from that angle. I know because I was a sniper with the Metropolitan Police before I went into personal protection. Nor would the bodyguard have stayed in the front seat holding hands with the principal during the attack. If it had been me I would have been straight on top of Keeley Hawes on the back seat to shield her.

"I am expendable, she is not.

"Luckily, I never faced anything as terrifying as that during my time looking after Miss Houston. But I can relate to the dynamic in Bodyguard

"When the US embassy offered me the job of looking after the singer 30 years ago I had set up my own private security business and, though she may have been one of the world’s most famous pop stars, I did not have a clue who she was, or the world she came from. So, like DS Budd, I researched my new principal. That is portrayed in the drama as a controversial thing to do, but I think it is perfectly sensible and normal.

"And like his character, once I was in the job I was quickly won over by this very beautiful, sophisticated, smart woman.

"Of course, the film The Bodyguard only touched on a small part of our relationship and I only enjoyed watching the movie to an extent.

"That was just two hours viewing. Now I’m watching an hour of Bodyguard every week."

  • The special 75-minute Bodyguard finale is on BBC1, Sunday, at 9pm.

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