Apple Tree Yard sees well-to-do scientist Yvonne Carmichael (Emily Watson) chancing an affair with the mysterious and charismatic Mark Costley (Ben Chaplin), thus jeopardising her happy marriage and two children.
It begins with our female lead going to court before it flashes back to nine months earlier for the reason for it all. Since we hanky panky is in the offing, does it drive forward like one of those dumb ’90s Hollywood thrillers where a complete psycho slowly spoils the status quo?
Everything looked so predictable. When with hubby, Gary (Mark Bonnar), she looked to have slight regrets as she recalled her beginning brief bonk; And when she tried to put it down in words on her PC in the form of a letter buried in a misnamed folder, why not mask it further by making it sound like a draft for a short story? That’s what I’d do if I was trying to get away with a bit of “how’s your father”?
It comes as no surprise that while she’s dealing with the dilemma of her fling, hubby lets on that he also indulged in some In flagrante delicto, making her feel less guilty, and I also felt that the pair of them holding hands in public was a daft thing to do.
While I figured it wouldn’t take long before someone sussed what she was up to, there was an unpleasant outcome to that which I wasn’t expecting, and made you think differently about how the court case might turn out, but I don’t know if I particularly care to find out, given how slow this first episode was. I definitely don’t think it needs to run four episodes – perhaps around two to two-and-a-half hours in total, but not four hours.
Based on Louise Doughty‘s bestselling novel, and with a score by Borgen‘s Halfdan E, there were no previews of this first episode and I can see why. The two leads are superb actors, but when they supposedly get all sexy, I’ve seen better erotica in the weather forecast. There’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before. Perhaps this book was written for housewives in need of a Mills & Boon-style escape with a half-arsed attempt at a thriller?
Apple Tree Yard continues next Sunday on BBC1 at 9pm, and is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on February 20th, and you can also buy the book. The first episode is available to watch on BBC iPlayer. Also, click on the packshot for the full-size version.
Episode 1 Score: 1/10
Director: Jessica Hobbs
Producer: Chris Carey
Executive Producers: Manda Levin and Amanda Coe
Writer: Amanda Coe (based on the novel by Louise Doughty)
Music: Halfdan E
Yvonne Carmichael: Emily Watson
Mark Costley: Ben Chaplin
Gary Carmichael: Mark Bonnar
Susannah: Susan Lynch
George Selway: Steven Elder
Carrie: Olivia Vinall
Sathnam: Assad Zaman
Liz: Franc Ashman
Rosa: Laure Stockley
Jamie: Robin Morrissey
Select Committee Chair: Helen Anderson
MP: Richard Rycroft
Security Guard: Andre Nightingale
Clerk: Syreeta Kumar
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.