From Vigil to Bodyguard: Why are we all suckers for far-fetched TV?
These are buoyant times for outlandish thrillers. Vigil, the BBC’s submarine escapade, dragged 13.4 million viewers down with it. Unless you count the national football team beating Germany at the Euros, it was the BBC’s most successful original drama in 2021. It is the most viewed debut since Bodyguard, not coincidentally also from World Productions, the company that gave us Line of Duty. When the consolidated finale figures are in, they may eclipse Bodyguard (14 million) or even this year’s Line of Duty (15 million).
In some senses this feels inevitable. Who wouldn’t want to watch Line of Duty under the sea? Vigil is the latest example of a formula that has been steadily perfected since the start of Line of Duty in 2012. Has there ever been a programme better designed to smash the Sunday night audience? Lesser dramas are written; Vigil was concocted in a lab….