Unforgotten creator Chris Lang has revealed he approached convicted fraudsters John and Anne Darwin ahead of his upcoming ITV drama about the couple, but that they "didn't want to get involved" in the project.


The ITV true crime drama series, titled The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe, stars Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan as the Darwins, who conspired to fake John's death as part of a life insurance scam.

The upcoming four-part ITV series is inspired by an unpublished manuscript penned by David Leigh, the journalist who first found Anne when she was living in Panama, where the couple moved following their 2002 insurance scam.

Speaking at a press event attended by RadioTimes.com, Lang was asked whether he had spoken to either John or Anne Darwin ahead of making the series.

"No, not direct contact, we approached them all. And none of them were interested in discussing or collaborating on the project," he said.

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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."

On being cast as John, Eddie Marsan previously said: "I’m so thrilled to be working with Chris Lang, one of our greatest writers, and to get the chance to work with Monica Dolan.

"The story of how and why John Darwin faked his own death to defraud insurance companies is fascinating, and if it weren’t fact, you’d think it unbelievable.

"I can’t pretend to understand what was going on in his head when he made those choices, but I’m going to do my absolute best to portray him, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Monica Dolan added: “The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe tells the story of surely the most outrageous fraud of modern times – and my favourite kind of drama is when the outrageous comes from the prosaic.

"As breathtaking as their managing to pull this deception off in the first place, is how spectacularly the couple wrecked it for themselves as soon as they had got away with it.”

Additional reporting by Helen Daly.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe will air soon on ITV. If you’re looking for more to watch, take a look at the rest of our Drama coverage, or check out our TV Guide.


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