Apple Tree Yard

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Apple Tree Yard
Created byLouise Doughty
Based onApple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Written byAmanda Coe
Directed byJessica Hobbs
StarringEmily Watson
Ben Chaplin
Mark Bonnar
Steven Elder
Susan Lynch
Kezia Burrows
Composer(s)Halfdan E
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes4 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Amanda Coe
Manda Levin
Lucy Richer
Producer(s)Chris Carey
CinematographyMatt Gray BSC
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Kudos Film & Television
Original networkBBC One
Picture format1080i 16:9
Audio formatStereo
Original release22 January (2017-01-22) –
6 February 2017 (2017-02-06)
External links

Apple Tree Yard is a British television thriller, adapted from the novel of the same name by Louise Doughty.[1] The four-part series was commissioned in 2016 and the first episode had its premiere on BBC One on 22 January 2017.[2] Emily Watson stars as the novel's original lead, Dr Yvonne Carmichael, with Ben Chaplin portraying the role of her lover, Mark Costley.[3] Apple Tree Yard follows the story of Carmichael, an unhappily married fifty-something scientist, who begins a secret affair with Costley whilst completely unaware of his background.



After giving a presentation in the House of Commons, Dr Yvonne Carmichael (Watson) meets a mysterious man (Ben Chaplin) who charms her by offering her a tour of the locked Secret Chapel of the Commons. They quickly take likings to one another and have anonymous sex in the historic former broom cupboard. Afterwards, Yvonne begins secretly to compose fantasy letters playing out a relationship with the stranger, Mr. X. The next day, Yvonne tracks Mr. X to a café opposite the Commons, inviting him for coffee. After having sex in the café toilets, they agree to begin an illicit affair fuelled by the thrill of having sex in public places. Yvonne becomes aware that her lover is unwilling to reveal his true identity, but begins to thrive on their shared secret. One night, after meeting with Mr. X in Apple Tree Yard, Yvonne attends a party for one of her colleagues. There, she is approached by a long-term friend, George (Elder), who reveals that he has harboured secret feelings for her for some time. When she rejects his advances, George brutally rapes her.

Traumatised from the attack, Yvonne is forced to take time away from work. She slowly begins to confide in Mr. X, who advises her to speak to a rape expert before she decides whether to report the incident to the police. She decides against doing so, but also breaks off the affair. Yvonne tries to pluck up the courage to face her colleagues, but realises that she cannot get the image of George out of her head. She later makes the decision to resign from her job and focus more on her personal life. When she discovers that her husband Gary has spent the weekend away in bed with his intern, Yvonne completely abandons the idea of retirement and decides to reignite her affair with Mr. X. However, she begins to notice that George is stalking her. Yvonne is confronted by George in a local shop, causing her to accept Mr. X's offer to "resolve" the problem, expecting him to intimidate George by beating him up. They drive to George's house where, with Yvonne staying in the car, Mr. X goes inside. When he returns, looking anxious, she drives him away and they eventually part company.

Shortly afterwards, Yvonne and Mr. X - named by officials as Mark Costley - are arrested and charged with George's murder. During the ensuing trial process, Yvonne believes Mark will protect her by not revealing their affair. But when expert evidence in his favour is undermined by the prosecutor, Mark allows his barrister to disclose their affair whilst cross-examining Yvonne, and she is shown to be lying under oath. However, Yvonne's powerful testimony about her rape gains the jury's sympathy, and she is found not guilty of the killing—though she receives a suspended sentence for perjury. Mark is found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Yvonne subsequently visits him in prison, where she recalls a moment when she asked Mark to kill George, and to smash his face in. She says to Mark that she realises he has a personality disorder that means he took her request more literally than she intended.


Regarding the rape scene involving Emily Watson and Steven Elder in the first episode, director Jessica Hobbs commented that the scene was "well researched" and reflected on testimony made by several real victims in order to make the scene as accurate as possible. Watson commented; "It was an incredibly hard day for everyone. We wanted to be very sudden and very real. The people we spoke to described it as an out of body experience and so we tried to reflect that." She also noted that having worked closely with Chaplin in the past, it made filming their consensual sex scenes easier: "We've known each other a long time, and we didn't want to fumble about, waiting for someone to shout 'Cut!', which usually happens. We plotted and planned every detail. We wanted it to be realistic – what would it be like in that situation, in a cupboard with a complete stranger? Which was great. I'd never laughed so much and it felt... empowering!"[4]

However, the rape scene was heavily criticised by several victim support organisations, with Rape Crisis England and Wales spokeswoman Katie Russell branding the scene "harrowing". A spokesperson for the series commented that; "The rape scene is an integral part of the leading character's story, faithful to the text of the best-selling novel. The drama goes on to raise important, complex questions about the consequences of sexual violence, exploring the emotional and psychological implications for her. It transmitted in a post watershed slot and there was a warning prior to broadcast and the BBC action line was given at the end for any viewers who were affected."[5]


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [6]
1"Episode 1"Jessica HobbsAmanda Coe22 January 2017 (2017-01-22)8.80
Dr Yvonne Carmichael seems to have it all - a respected career, a beautiful home and family. However, nothing is ever as it appears, and when she receives an unexpected proposition from an enigmatic stranger, Yvonne is shocked by the passion he awakens in her. But gradually she begins to realise that there is much more to her lover than meets the eye, and she could be playing a very dangerous game indeed.
2"Episode 2"[7]Jessica HobbsAmanda Coe29 January 2017 (2017-01-29)8.08
In the aftermath of what has happened, a devastated Yvonne shuts down. She feels unable to talk to the police or her husband, but as a campaign of terror is mounted against her, she is pushed to her limits and turns to her former lover, Costley, for advice. They meet for one last time and share a passionate afternoon together, before Costley takes control of the situation and Yvonne is plunged from one nightmare into another.
3"Episode 3"[8]Jessica HobbsAmanda Coe5 February 2017 (2017-02-05)8.12
Yvonne's life is turned upside down yet again, when she is ripped away from her family and arrested for murder. In shock, Yvonne denies everything, but the police are convinced that she and Costley colluded in cold blood. Their trial begins and very quickly Yvonne realises that everything she thought she knew about her lover was a lie. And right now he's all that's standing between her and a prison sentence.
4"Episode 4"[9]Jessica HobbsAmanda Coe6 February 2017 (2017-02-06)7.33
What starts out as a simple, reckless mid-life affair between a genetic scientist named Yvonne and a Westminster paper pusher takes an intriguing turn when she realizes he's a spook - then suddenly gets very dark indeed. A provocative study of obsession, longing and just how far down a criminal path desire can take you.

Home media release[edit]

The four-part series was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 20 February 2017.[10]


Year Award Category Nomination Result
2018 46th International Emmy Awards Best Performance by an Actress Emily Watson[11] Nominated


  1. ^ "Five things to know about Apple Tree Yard". Evening Standard. 22 January 2017.
  2. ^ Doughty, Louise. "Apple Tree Yard - Louise Doughty".
  3. ^ "Apple Tree Yard - BBC One".
  4. ^ "Emily Watson felt 'traumatised' by Apple Tree Yard rape scene".
  5. ^ "Viewers hit out at Beeb drama Apple Tree Yard after graphic rape scene". 23 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". Retrieved 12 January 2014. (No permanent link available. Search for relevant dates.)
  7. ^ "Episode Two". BBC One. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Episode Three". BBC One. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Episode Four". BBC One. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Apple Tree Yard". 20 February 2017 – via Amazon.
  11. ^ "International Emmy Award Nominations Unveiled". Variety. Retrieved 27 November 2018.

External links[edit]