Last night's viewing: Restless, BBC1
Racing Legends, BBC2
World’s Most Dangerous Road, BBC2

Haley Atwell discovers that wartime and danger add a certain spice to life

“Is Sally your real Mummy?” asks young Jochen, as he’s being taken by his mother to visit Granny in the country. “It’s just she’s so strange.”

Ruth, Jochen’s mother, seems a little taken aback by this judgement at the beginning of Restless, William Boyd’s adaptation of his own 2006 spy thriller. But it isn’t long before Ruth is thinking something similar. “Did anybody follow you?” asks Sally when they arrive, “There are people in the woods. People who are watching me.” Oh dear, thinks Ruth, it’s started. This isn’t the onset of dementia though, because there really are shadowy figures in the tree-line and Sally turns out to have the kind of past that can dog you into old age. Soon, Ruth has discovered that Sally isn’t Sally at all, but Eva Delectorskaya, a former British spy.

It’s the kind of thing that children often wishfully fantasise about their parents but which they almost always discount, because dull familiarity smothers the daydream. But that’s one theme of Boyd’s story. “No one knows even half the truth about anyone else... even when they’re very close,” Sally tells Ruth a little later, a lesson we suspect she has learnt the hard way, as a result of her own earlier betrayals and astonishments. Given that Sally is played by Charlotte Rampling, you might have thought that Ruth would have had her suspicions anyway. Rampling only has to appear on screen to suggest a concealed back story of some kind. But then children always assume that their parents have only a kind of depleted half-life compared to their own.

Boyd’s deft screenplay, like the novel, cuts between  the memoir that Ruth is given to explain her mother’s  past history, and the present day, where she finds herself recruited as a kind of double agent too, helping to track down her mother’s former lover. Hers is  a rapid and occasionally blackly comic education in her mother’s hidden talents, nicely summed  up by the scene in which Ruth  unexpectedly spots her walking down a street in Cambridge and tracks Granny to a gun shop, where she finds her buying a pump-action shotgun and specifying her taste in cartridges with an unnerving assurance.

For the moment, we’re more in the past than the present, with Haley Atwell playing the young Eva as an initially reluctant recruit who discovers (like similar characters in David Hare’s Plenty and Sebastian Faulks’s Charlotte Gray) that wartime and danger add a certain spice to life. In the young Eva’s case, the spice includes Lucas Romer, a senior intelligence officer who interprets his duties as her “handler” with a satisfying degree of erotic licence. When Eva travels with him to America, to help lever the United States into war by means of black propaganda, she discovers that she’s expected to serve as a honeytrap and that Romer’s own allegiances may be complicated. In another fine moment of narrative-by-casting we discover, in the final frame, that the elderly Romer is played by Michael Gambon, as good as a confirmation that we don’t yet know half the truth about him.

Two treats for petrolheads last night, the first in the shape of Racing Legends, in which Patrick Stewart got to meet his boyhood hero Stirling Moss and drive around in some of the cars that made his name. Genuine passion is a high-octane fuel for a television programme, and there was no question that that was what Stewart had in the tank, judging from the tremor of excitement on his face as he climbed into a Mercedes Gullwing to drive part of the route of the Mille Miglia. Treat two was World’s Most Dangerous Roads, in which Angus Deayton and Mariella Frostrup tackled 300 kilometres of Madagascan quagmire, enlivened by the occasional broken bridge and derelict ferry. If you are facing a long haul back along a motorway today it should have put the ordeal into perspective.

twitter.com/tds153

Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
music

Risking ridicule, they are driven by a burning desire to keep entertaining

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio (left) could team up with British director Danny Boyle for the Steve Jobs (right) biopic
film
Arts & Entertainment
The next wig thing: 'Drag Queens of London'
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams as Arya and Rory McCann as The Hound
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Rush hour: shoppers go sale crazy in Barkers, Kensington
film
VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes play Catherine and Heathcliff in Pete Kosminsky's 1992 movie adaptation of Wuthering Heights
booksGoogle Doodle celebrates Charlotte Brontë's 198th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
Robin Thicke with his Official Number 1 Award for 'Blurred Lines', the most downloaded track in UK music history
Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Rory Kinnear in his Olivier-winning role as Iago in Othello
Theatre
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
ComedyCollier was once told there were "too many women" on bill
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
music

Arts & Entertainment
Tom Baker who played the Doctor longer than any other actor
tv
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival

film
Arts & Entertainment
film

Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

    It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
    Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

    Migrants in Britain a decade on

    They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
    Why musicians play into their old age

    Why musicians play into their old age

    Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
    How can you tell a gentleman?

    How can you tell a gentleman?

    A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
    Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

    Sam Wallace

    Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
    Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

    Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

    Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
    Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

    Through the screen

    British Pathé opens its archives
    The man behind the papier mâché mask

    Frank Sidebottom

    The man behind the papier mâché mask
    Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
    Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

    Boston runs again

    Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
    40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

    40 years of fostering and holding the babies

    In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents