Apple Tree Yard begins with a shot of Yvonne Carmichael (Emily Watson) in the dock of a court room and then we get the back story as to why she is here and what has occurred for her to be in this situation.
Yvonne is a scientist who works at the Beaufort Institute in London. She is married but not happily as there are questions hanging over her husband and his research assistant. Everything in Yvonne’s life is quaint and nice, however, a chance encounter at the House of Commons after questions leads to Yvonne getting a tour of the building and and having sex in one of the quieter areas with Mark Costly (Ben Chaplin), who was attending her questioning.
This out of character illicit liaison stirs emotions in Yvonne that she has not felt for a while and, after further thought, attempts to retrace her steps in the hopes of bumping into Mark again, and she does and once again they have sex in another public place. What begins as a middle aged woman’s flight of fancy, quickly turns very dark and shocking at the end of that first episode; Yvonne’s life is turned upside down and starts her down the path that leads to that first scene in the courtroom.
All through this series Mark remains aloof, reticent and unable to divulge his exact profession which he informed Yvonne that it has something to do with Security but nothing more. This leads to Yvonne playing out her fantasy in her head, building this up into something other than it is, imagining what Mark does and who he really is, and this plays right into Mark’s hands as he attempts to continue the affair.
The acting is great from Emily Watson, carrying the burdens and the hopes of Yvonne Carmichael throughout, a real role which reaches a wide variety of emotion and she conveys it well. Ben Chaplin has less to do in terms of his character but he is realistic and believable as the mysterious, but persuasive Mark and Mark Bonnar plays Gary Carmichael as well as he can as it is a hard role to play, in and out of the story, in and out of favour with the viewer but he does also manage to get this across in a satisfying way.
Part middle age romance, part thriller, part tense courtroom drama, Apple Tree Yard does really well to meld these together into something highly watchable. Half way through the first episode I had thought to myself that this isn’t going to be the series for me as it wasn’t really appealing but by the end of that episode it had taken a far more interesting path and it continued to follow this path right through to the end. At only four episodes of an hour each this is easily viewable and worthy of the time.
ARROW FILMS RELEASES APPLE TREE YARD ON DVD & BLU-RAY BOX SET ON MONDAY 20th FEBRUARY