The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe: ITV release date, trailer, and cast with Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan

Eddie Marsan as John Darwin and Monica Dolan as Anne Darwin in new ITV drama The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe (Photo: ITV)Eddie Marsan as John Darwin and Monica Dolan as Anne Darwin in new ITV drama The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe (Photo: ITV)
Eddie Marsan as John Darwin and Monica Dolan as Anne Darwin in new ITV drama The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe (Photo: ITV) | ITV/PA
The new ITV true crime drama stars Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan as fraudsters John and Anne Darwin

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe is the latest ITV true crime drama to hit our TV screens, except this one isn’t about murder - in fact, it’s almost the exact opposite.

Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan star in the new series as Chris Lang, the creator and writer of Unforgotten, dramatises the story of John Darwin, the ‘canoe man’ who faked his death as part of an insurance fraud scam.

This is everything you need to know.

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What is The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe about?

The new ITV drama is based on the true story of John and Anne Darwin, who worked together to fake John’s death in order to claim his life insurance money and clear their accumulated debts.

John orchestrated his fake death by fooling authorities into thinking he had drowned after going out into the sea in the Seaton Carew area with his kayak on Thursday 21 March.

After a large-scale search failed to find the missing John, he was declared dead and his death certificate was issued. Using his death certificate, Anne was able to claim a total of almost £250,000 from the likes of John’s life insurance and pension schemes.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe recreate the infamous photo which exposed John and Anne Darwin (Photo: ITV/PA)The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe recreate the infamous photo which exposed John and Anne Darwin (Photo: ITV/PA)
The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe recreate the infamous photo which exposed John and Anne Darwin (Photo: ITV/PA) | PA/ITV

John was missing for a total of five years - however, during this time that he was presumed dead, he was living in a bedsit next to his family home. He was able to visit Anne in the family home using a secret door which connected the terraced houses. In February 2003, John moved back in with Anne.

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The couple eventually decided to start a new life together abroad and decided upon Panama.

Their plan was ultimately foiled by a picture of them that had been taken whilst in Panama in 2006 and featured on an Panamanian property agents website. The authorities were alerted to the image and both John and Anne were arrested on fraud charges.

Who is in the cast?

Eddie Marsan stars as John Darwin, the prison officer who faked his own death. Marsan has starred in a huge number of roles throughout his acting career, with viewers likely recognising him from the likes of Ridley Road, Deceit, The Pact, Ray Donovan, River, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and The World’s End.

Alongside Marsan, The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe stars Monica Dolan as Darwin’s wife, Anne. Some roles you may recognise Dolan from include W1A, Cyrano, Vanity Fair, Hang Ups, A Very English Scandal, The Casual Vacancy and Eye in the Sky.

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Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan lead the cast in the new ITV drama (Photo: ITV/PA)Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan lead the cast in the new ITV drama (Photo: ITV/PA)
Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan lead the cast in the new ITV drama (Photo: ITV/PA) | ITV/PA

Stepping into the roles of the Darwin sons is Mark Stanley (Happy Valley, Trigger Point) as Mark Darwin and Dominic Applewhite (The Inbetweeners, Sex Education) as Anthony Darwin.

David Fynn (The Pembrokeshire Murders, Vanity Fair) stars as journalist Dave Leigh, and Karl Pilkington (An Idiot Abroad, Derek) as DC Phil Bayley.

The rest of the cast includes:

  • Ellis Jones (Wilfred and Eileen, The Squirrels)
  • Carrie Cohen (Hungry Joe, Skeletons)
  • Alice Harding (The Investigator: A British Crime Story, Casualty)
  • Andrew Lancel (Coronation Street, Marcella)
  • Francesca Knight (The Girl Before, The League of Gentlemen)
  • Colin R Campbell (Unforgotten, Coronation Street)
  • Tom Bonington (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, My Friend the Polish Girl)

During a Q&A, creator Chris Lang revealed that the real life Darwins did not want to be involved in the new ITV drama.

Lang said: “We approached them all and none of them were interested in discussing or collaborating on the project.

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“David Leigh, who was the journalist who broke the story… does still speak with Anne and has a good relationship with her. So, you know, I think [he] hopefully has been able to reassure her that it is as sympathetic a telling of her story as is possible, given what she did.

“But no, they didn’t want to get involved. You know, they have told their story a lot in public, obviously… Yeah, none of them wanted to.”

Is there a trailer?

Yes, ITV has released a trailer for its new miniseries, which you can watch here.

When is it on TV?

The first episode of The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe will air tonight, on Sunday 17 April on ITV at 9pm.

The four part mini series will then air across the week, with the final episode on Wednesday 20 April.

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