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The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe

  • Episode:

    3 of 4

  • Transmission (TX):

    Tue 19 Apr 2022

  • TX Confirmed


  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.00pm

  • Week:

    Week 16 2022 : Sat 16 Apr - Fri 22 Apr

  • Channel:


  • Published:

    Fri 08 Apr 2022

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe

Episode 3

John has had enough of being dead and returns to England to declare he is suffering from amnesia. He is reunited with his sons. Journalists hunt down Anne in Panama and the story starts to unravel as a photograph of the two of them emerges.

Series overview

Starts Sunday 17 April 2022 and broadcasts over the following nights at 9pm on ITV and ITV Hub (4 episodes Sunday to Wednesday)

Renowned actors, Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan, play Anne and John Darwin in the extraordinary and compelling ITV drama, The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe.

The real life story of how John Darwin, played by BIFA winner Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, Sherlock Holmes, Happy Go Lucky) faked his own death to claim life insurance and avoid bankruptcy is written by acclaimed screenwriter Chris Lang.

Commented Chris Lang:

“I am beyond delighted to be working with two of the finest actors of their generation. I have admired them both from afar for many years (not in a creepy way though) and cannot wait to see them bring Anne and John Darwin to life.”

The drama focuses on how Anne Darwin, played by BAFTA-winner Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult, W1A, A Very English Scandal), became complicit in her husband’s deception as she started 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.

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 6 years.

The four-part drama was produced by Story Films, the company founded by three times BAFTA-winner David Nath (The Murder Detectives, Deceit) and fellow award-winning director Peter Beard with Alison Sterling (The Windermere Children) producing.

Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan take the roles of Anne and John Darwin in ITV’s The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe

They were joined by the celebrated screenwriter of Unforgotten and Innocent Chris Lang (The Hookup Plan, Dark Heart, A Mother’s Son) who also executive produces the four part series. BAFTA winning director, Richard Laxton, (Honour, Mrs Wilson, Mum) directs each of the four episodes.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe was inspired by a memoir written by journalist David Leigh who was the first journalist to track down Anne as she was on the verge of setting up a new life in Panama.

Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan are joined in the cast by Mark Stanley (White House Farm), Dominic Applewhite, and Karl Pilkington (Sick of It, Derek).

The drama was commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama Polly Hill and produced in association with All3Media International. All3Media International represents the show internationally.