Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe is the fact the upcoming ITV drama is based on a very true story, starring real people.


The four-part ITV series tells the story of Anne and John Darwin, a couple from Hartlepool so deeply in debt they did the unthinkable - faked John's death to claim insurance money.

The terrible crime resulted in the family falling apart – after all, both sons didn't know what their parents had done, assuming their dad was dead and their mother was grieving. Both Anne and John received sentences of six years and served just under three years in prison for fraud.

At a Q&A for The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe attended by, the creative team behind the new ITV drama revealed that one of the Darwin sons actually attended filming - not that anyone knew about it.

"[He was there] on the first day of filming, in disguise," explained executive producer David Nath. "We didn't know he was there until a few weeks later."

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"We'd heard he'd come in a baseball cap," added Monica Dolan, who plays Anne Darwin.

Nath continued: "Yeah, with a COVID mask on to watch."

The team didn't get any feedback from the son on what he saw.

Neither Anne, John, nor any of their children wanted to be involved in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe.

Writer Chris Lang explained: "No direct contact. We approached them all, and none of them were interested in discussing or collaborating on the project.

"David Leigh, who was the journalist who broke the story and wrote the book which was a part of the research into the project, does still speak to Anne and has a good relationship with her. 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."

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