During the final moments of tonight’s gripping premiere, Watson’s character, scientist Yvonne Carmichael, was beaten and molested by an innocent-looking colleague.
The BBC series has been hailed for finally acknowledging sex among the over 50s, as Carmichael finds sexual rejuvenation in the clutches of an enigmatic stranger, Mark Costly (played by Ben Chaplin).
However, her wild few days of illicit romping in public bathrooms and churches ended with a horrific tale of sexual assault.
“Does your husband know you’re f**king someone else?” the attacker snarled. “F**king move, even just a little bit, and I’ll hit you again.”
Emily Watson traumatised by Apple Tree Yard rape scene
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I hope every who was watching #AppleTreeYard is ok especially after the rape scene
Apple Tree Yard viewer
Viewers found the scenes “uncomfortable”, but even Watson, 50, has admitted that the terrifying ordeal was a challenge to play.
“It was an incredibly hard day for everyone,” she explained. “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.”
Emily's character Yvonne Carmichael was raped by a colleague in Apple Tree Yard
Apple Tree Yard opened to mixed reviews in its series premiere
The audience at home were also disturbed by the drama on Twitter, with one posting: “The rape scene was too much, very unsettling. I feel sick now.”
Another posted: “I hope every who was watching #AppleTreeYard is ok especially after the rape scene,” while one more wrote: “Well I was enjoying that until the rape. I thought it was going to be a drama about a middle aged affair…”
Apple Tree Yard continues next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.