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Bodyguard and Line Of Duty creator Jed Mercurio made OBE in New Year Honours

Jed Mercurio has written some of the biggest British TV hits of the 21st century (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Jed Mercurio has written some of the biggest British TV hits of the 21st century (Isabel Infantes/PA)

One of British television’s leading writers, Jed Mercurio is responsible for some of the most-watched dramas of recent years.

The writer and producer behind hits including Line of Duty and Bodyguard has been made an OBE in the New Year Honours for services to television drama.

Born Gerald Gary Mercurio in Nelson, Lancashire, the 54-year-old is a former hospital doctor and Royal Air Force officer.

BFI and Radio Times Television Festival
Jed Mercurio (Ian West/PA)

He began a career in TV drama when he stumbled across an advert in the British Medical Journal from a production company interested in developing a  TV medical drama.

The company was Tony Garnett’s World Productions and the drama went on to become Cardiac Arrest, starring Helen Baxendale and Andrew Lancel, which launched in 1994.

The series sparked controversy due to its realistic depiction of hospital life, topping a poll of UK medical professionals as the most realistic medical drama of all time.

Mercurio left medicine behind but his medical background has continued to influence his writing, with his series Bodies (adapted from Mercurio’s first novel) starring Max Beesley, and Critical, starring Lennie James, both set inside hospitals.

But it was Line Of Duty, which began on the BBC in 2012, which propelled Mercurio to household name status.

The series, following the investigations of police anti-corruption unit AC-12, has been a huge hit and attracted guest stars including Keeley Hawes, Thandie Newton and Stephen Graham.

Line of Duty
Stephen Graham in Line Of Duty (BBC)

Its viewership grew over time and the show was moved from BBC Two to a prime slot on BBC One for its fourth series.

But even the success of Line Of Duty paled in comparison to the juggernaut that was Bodyguard, starring Richard Madden as the police officer assigned to protect the Home Secretary, played by Hawes.

The 2018 show became the most-watched drama series of the decade, with the finale drawing a TV audience of 14.3 million.

Keeley Hawes comments
Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes in Bodyguard (Des Willie/BBC)

It was also a hit in the US and landed Mercurio two Emmy nominations.

Line Of Duty also landed in the top five most-watched dramas, with its nail-biting fifth series finale attracting a TV audience of 12.1 million.

Mercurio is also responsible for series including The Grimleys, Strike Back, and Invasion: Earth and his books include Bodies, The Ascent, American Adulterer and The Penguin Expedition.

The sixth series of Line Of Duty, which was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, has finished filming in Northern Ireland and is due to air in 2021.

It will star Kelly Macdonald as a senior investigating officer on an unsolved murder case.

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