The uncomfortable signs you might be in a Midlife Marriage at a Crossroads

BBC One’s adaptation of David Nicholls’ ‘Us’ makes uncomfortable viewing for marriages of a certain age bracket

Us BBC One
The BBC One adaption of 'Us' paints a portrait of a marriage on the edge of breaking down Credit: Colin Hutton

Are you watching Us? As in, the David Nicholls adaptation of his novel of the same name on BBC One (second episode tomorrow night) and also observing a marriage that feels uncomfortably similar to our own?

Well, the marriage in Us is in terminal crisis (the wife, Connie, has already said she’s leaving) but apart from that, Us could be Us coping with the midlife marriage gear shift (last kid off to uni, empty house, immediate purpose of union unclear, etc).

Even if we think we’re fine, even if we’re not married to a Douglas or a Connie, it’s still pretty close to home, which is why it will become compulsory viewing for the older married couples among us.

Catastrophe had its, “Oh That’s Me” moments, as did Divorce and even on occasion Cold Feet, but this is postcards from the front line of a 50-something marriage after 20-odd years, and in the uncertain, anti-social, hope-draining time of coronavirus, it feels… relevant.

Connie and Douglas Petersen played by Saskia Reeves and Tom Hollander paint a less than savoury portrait of what awaits ageing marriages Credit: Colin Hutton

We’re going to be watching it, side by side on the sofa, in tense-jawed silence and wondering are we in a Midlife Marriage at a Crossroads (Mimac)? (Score one point for every “yes” answer to the questions below, and find out).

  • Like Douglas, He’s always to be found reading a Beevor in bed. Unless it’s a James Holland. (Don’t give yourself a point if this happens after, not instead of, sex).
  • You (the wife) frequently accuse Him of not talking, which he utterly refutes. This is because he considers talking to be: discussing which day is going to be the best day to put the car in for an MOT; deciding which box set you are going to wade into next, or if it’s mad to have four on the go concurrently.
  •  Reading/work has become His communication shield. Yours is your phone. Between you, you can be unavailable 80 per cent of the time that you used to be available.
  • You have caught Him looking at you in a slightly “when did she put all that on?” way.
  • He has caught you looking at Him in a “should you do up another button” way.
  •  Lately he is irritated by your way of singing made-up songs and you are irritated by his excessive yawning (and neither of you did either a couple of years ago).
  • You want the light off at different times. (New entry).
  • The other day, you wore a quite ugly jumpsuit in the spirit of “What the hell, I need to get some wear out of it” and he didn’t even notice that you had changed.
  • Nowadays when you drink too much, instead of lurching into bed giggling, you have a humdinger about how little He understands what it was like for the Pankhursts.
  • He is a secret lockdown fan. Not for the economy, obviously, but as a means of limiting his social life, and our expectations. We are gasping for dates with friends, and holidays.

Score six or more and you’re a bit Douglas and Connie, but don’t worry about that, there’s some of them in all of Us.

Is it just me…

The reigning Miss Great Britain was 18st and lost 8st in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Archive

Who thinks Jen Atkin is ideally placed to weigh into the obesity debate? Atkin, who was crowned Miss Great Britain in March, disputes the fashion for avoiding the word obese or encouraging people to “burn calories” lest they should feel fat-shamed.

Miss GB wants people to know being urged to burn calories is what is required, because when she was 18st it never occurred to her that she was clinically obese. Now she’s shed 8st and wants everyone to wake up and realise being healthy makes you happier. Surely she knows what she’s talking about?

Is it OK to…

Tom Hardy is rumoured to be starring as the next Bond but does he have what it takes? Credit: Karwei Tang/WireImage

Be relieved that Tom Hardy is probably (bookies have just suspended bets) the next 007? It’s not that we particularly care who succeeds Daniel Craig, but we care that those in charge don’t get it wrong.

Bond must not be too posh, too drippy, too pointlessly beefy, too smooth, too short, too humourless, not tortured enough, not cool enough – and getting the balance of all these just right is a point of national pride – plus the actor chosen must look good in a DJ and not sound twittish when he orders a martini.

Hardy might just be an inspired choice.