Apple Tree Yard

Apple Tree Yard is a ‘provocative, audacious thriller’ based on Louise Doughty’s novel about a middle-aged woman whose life spirals out of control when she embarks on a passionate affair.

Well that’s what the blurb says, anyway. The reality is more difficult to describe – but imagine Emily Watson reciting entries from the Bad Sex Award shortlist in the style of Vanessa Redgrave on Call the Midwife, and you’d be nearer the mark.

Watson plays Dr Yvonne Carmichael, a respected geneticist bumbling along in a humdrum marriage (to Mark Bonnar, who’s contractually obliged to be in everything these days) until the day she surrenders to a thorough ravishing in a House of Commons broom cupboard by a Tall Dark Stranger (Ben Chaplin, doing his best to look seductive with one foot stuck in a mop bucket).

‘I don’t even know your name,’ Yvonne said afterwards. ‘Shoot first, ask questions later,’ replied Tall Dark Stranger.  I’m sorry – could you just pass me that mop bucket again?

They began an affair, chronicled by Yvonne in an excruciating diary in which she writes things like: ‘Sex with you is like being eaten by a wolf’ – weirdly, this was meant as a compliment – and: ‘Who are you? I couldn’t say, though I have noticed secrets of the air you breathe.’

Later, they had sex in some cafe toilets, after which Yvonne went for a swim, probably to cleanse herself of guilt or something symbolic like that. Or maybe she just fancied a swim, I don’t know.

She began to suspect her lover might be a spy. Let’s hope so, as it would be nice to find something interesting about this dreary pair. On the other hand, his suspiciously comprehensive knowledge of CCTV might just be because he likes risky sex – including an al fresco fumble in the eponymous Apple Tree Yard, W1.

‘Where’s the apple tree?’ asked Yvonne. ‘Long gone,’ he said.

I suspect this was a metaphor – you know, for the fruit of temptation, or something. Or they might have just been talking about a tree, I don’t know.

TV extra:


Call the Midwife

Another year, another series of Call the Midwife, another round of Vanessa Redgrave’s uniquely winsome homilies (‘For every wave of change, there came a new beginning…’ Aaah.).

There are times when the show feels like a Victoria Wood spoof (I’d swear Charlotte Ritchie’s line ‘Well that’s my fate sealed – my pottery teacher says she’ll lend me her wheel!’ was originally written for Celia Imrie’s Miss Babs) but, in a TV landscape dominated by death, it’s hard to begrudge the success of a drama about the other end of things.


MasterChef USA Junior

Part cooking competition, part game show, MasterChef USA Junior casts Gordon Ramsay in the unlikely role of ringmaster to a bunch of hyperactive, over-confident 8-13 year-olds. Watch as Uncle Gordon organises party games, showers them with marshmallows and gets gunged, all while trying not to say the F word! Plus – and I swear this actually happened – all the aprons were hidden inside a giant piñata of Gordon’s head, and could only be released by the kids smashing him in the face with sticks.

If only I was 35 years younger…

Published in Waitrose Weekend, January 26, 2017

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