ITV The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe: What’s it about, when’s it on and who’s in the cast?

The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe is a brand new real-life drama based on the frankly, unbelievable case of John and Anne Darwin and a scheme to escape thousands of pounds of debt.

Due to air on ITV in April – there’s no set date as of yet, but we’ll update this article as soon as we know – the programme will dramatise what happened back in the early noughties.

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The drama is written by Unforgotten creator, Chris Lang and is based upon the unpublished manuscript written by journalist David Leigh. David was the first journalist to find and interview Anne in Panama.

Screenwriter Chris Lang said: “If I’d tried to sell this project as an original story, it would never have got further than the pitch. ‘It’s just too far-fetched, Chris, no-one would ever believe that any of that could actually have happened’. Except it did. All of it. And I loved writing every, single, word.”

How many episodes are there?

There will be four episodes of The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe airing.

What’s it about?

The drama will focus on how Anne Darwin became complicit in her husband’s deception as she needed to convince the world, their family and friends, the police and insurance companies that he had gone missing in 2002 whilst canoeing off the coast of Seaton Carew in Cleveland where the couple owned two large houses with panoramic views of the sea.

Mortgaged to the hilt, Darwin had also run up debts of £64K on 13 credit cards and his excessive spending had seen their finances spiral out of control. Anne would have preferred her husband to go bankrupt, but she eventually went along with his absurd scheme to fake his own death.

Darwin laid low whilst Anne was questioned by the police and began to weave a web of deceit.

The deception was to take its toll on Anne who lied to their sons, Mark and Anthony, for five years whilst her husband, in the early days of the fraud, secretly lived in a bedsit next door to the home he shared with Anne.

Devastated by the loss of their father, neither son had an inkling their parents were capable of such treachery. Anne and John Darwin eventually decided to leave Seaton Carew and move to Panama city to start a new life together before their secret was exposed by the discovery of an infamous photo of them posing in a Panama real estate office in July 2006.

At her trial, Anne Darwin pleaded not guilty, arguing that she had been coerced into the plot by her husband, but the jury didn’t believe her. She and her husband were both jailed for more than six years.

Who’s in the cast?

It’s a great cast led by Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan as the titular couple.

Eddie is known for his long list of starring roles including as Terry in Ray Donovan, Arwel in The Pact and Mr Norrell in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell on the small screen. He’s had just as many roles in films, too, with parts in The World’s End, 21 Grams, Tyrannosaur, Happy-go-Lucky and he is Inspector Lestrade to Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes.

Monica is also a familiar face amongst TV fans having been seen most recently in W1A, Black Mirror, Wolf Hall and tonnes more. She’s also had film roles in the recent release Cyrano, The Dig and she was also in Pride.

Their two sons are played by Mark Stanley and Dominic Applethwaite. You’ll recognise Mark from his recent role in Trigger Point as Thom Youngblood, but he’s also had regular roles in The Bay, The Murders at Whitehouse Farm, Honour and Sanditon. While Dominic is best remembered for being Simon’s younger brother, Andrew, in The Inbetweeners. Dominic has also had roles in Sex Education and The Crown.

Others in the cast include Karl Pilkington and Andrew Lancel as detectives investigating the case.

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