BBC terror thriller Bodyguard has become the biggest new drama launch in the UK in a decade. The first episode of the drama, created by Line of Duty’s Jed Mercurio, consolidated with 10.4 million viewers and a 40.9% share, after launching with 6.7M overnight viewers last Sunday night.

The show saw an increase of 3.6M viewers watching via catch-up and on-demand and is the highest launch figure for a new drama on BBC One since at least 2002. Some 3M people have watched the drama on BBC iPlayer.

The ratings should help distributor ITV Studios Global Entertainment secure a U.S. deal for the show.

The drama, which is produced by ITV-owned Line of Duty producer World Productions, is set in and around the corridors of power. Bodyguard tells the story of a heroic but volatile war veteran assigned to protect the Home Secretary whose politics run contrary to his own.

Richard Madden plays David Budd, who is working as a Specialist Protection Officer for the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch of London’s Metropolitan Police Service. When he is assigned to protect the ambitious and powerful Home Secretary, Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), whose politics stand for everything he despises, Budd finds himself torn between his duty and his beliefs. Responsible for her safety, is he actually her biggest threat?

Mercurio wrote and is exec producing the project with Simon Heath for World Productions and Elizabeth Kilgarriff for BBC One. Thomas Vincent and John Strickland are directing. Further cast include Gina McKee (Line of Duty) Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders), Vincent Franklin (Happy Valley), Pippa Haywood (Scott & Bailey), Stuart Bowman (Versailles) and Paul Ready (The Terror).

Mercurio said: “The success of Bodyguard is a tribute to the magnetism of our two leads, Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes. I’m exceedingly grateful to World Productions and to the BBC who have supported the project throughout production, and to the viewers who’ve responded with such enthusiasm.”

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, added, “I’m thrilled with the response to BBC One’s new Sunday night drama Bodyguard, the figures are extraordinary and all credit to the mastermind creator and writer Jed Mercurio who is surprising the audience at every turn.”