The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe

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.

Eddie Marsden as John Darwin and Monica Dolan as his wife Anne

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.”

Monica Dolan as Anne Darwin

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.


Anne Darwin  –   Monica Dolan
John Darwin – Eddie Marsan
Mark Darwin – Mark Stanley
Anthony Darwin – Dominic Applewhite
Dave Leigh – David Fynn
Louise – Alice Arding
Flick – Francesca Knight
Michael – Colin R Campbell
Nicola Finnerty – Karina Fernandez
Dc Phil Bayley – Karl Pilkington
Ds Paul Sapson – Andrew Lancel
Dc June Ayoade – Lois Chimimba

Writer & Executive Producer: Chris Lang
Executive Producer: David Nath
Director: Richard Laxton
Producer: Alison Sterling
Inspired by a memoir by David Leigh
Director of Photography: Sergio Delgado
Editor: James Taylor
Casting Director: Amy Hubbard
Production Designer: Claire Kenny
Costume Designer: Richard Cooke
Hair & Make-up Designer: Nic Collins