ITV drama to tell story of 'back from the dead' Seaton Carew canoeist John Darwin

John Darwin faked his own death in 2002.

A new drama commissioned by ITV will tell the story of the "back from the dead" canoeist John Darwin from Hartlepool, who faked his own death to claim life insurance and avoid bankruptcy.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe will be told in four parts and 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.

Darwin, who had run up debts of £64,000, laid low whilst Anne was questioned by the police and began to weave a web of deceit.

Anne 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 their home.

The couple 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.

John and Anne Darwin were spotted in this photo taken in Panama.

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.

Anne and John were both jailed for more than six years. Credit: PA Images

The drama will be written by acclaimed screenwriter Chris Lang and based upon the unpublished manuscript written by journalist David Leigh. David was the first journalist to find and interview Anne in Panama.