The Thief, his Wife and the Canoe star Monica Dolan has said that the ITV series is set to "divide" viewers over its dramatisation of true events.


The four-part drama tells the true story of Hartlepool couple John (Eddie Marsan) and Anne Darwin (Monica Dolan), who faked John's death during a supposed canoe accident in 2002 before John was discovered to be alive, leading to their arrest and prison sentencing in 2008.

When asked whether viewers will sympathise with Anne Darwin, Dolan told and other press at a Q&A for The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe: "I think and I hope that people will sort of yo-yo a bit with her because you're seeing how she's feeling but there's the whole question of responsibility, and should she take responsibility. How much responsibility? Do you have choices that you don't see?"

Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe.
Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe. ITV

She added that there will be moments in the drama when "it's impossible not to judge" Anne, as well as times when the character feels bad about committing fraud.

"There are moments when hopefully, seeing her experience that guilt, we'll ask ourselves what we might have done," Dolan said. "Hopefully it helps you understand her but I think that particularly in the later episodes, it's very much about forgiveness.

"Whenever you see a play that's really about forgiveness, I think it's something that very much divides people so I hope that there's an effect in that regard."

Chris Lang, the drama's writer and executive producer, added that Anne Darwin's case may have been tried differently today with the defence of coercive control becoming more recognisable in recent years.

"It feels looking back slightly absurd that a court wasn't able to recognise that someone is present in your mind, particularly if they've been gently coercing you, controlling you for 30 or 40 years," he said. "You don't need to have them standing by your side in order to get them to bend to your to your will.

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"And as a dramatist, and as filmmakers, all we can do is ask the questions – we don't set out to provide answers. You pose the question in the audience's mind and then they go away and hopefully they talk about it and they come to a conclusion."

Additional reporting by Helen Daly.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe will air on ITV and ITV Hub in April 2022. Check out our Drama hub for more news, interviews and features or find something to watch with our TV guide.


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