Is the thief, his wife and the canoe based on a true story?

Even John and Anne’s children were convinced their father had died (Image: ITV/PA)

As far as crime dramas go, The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe on ITV is definitely one of the weirdest.

Based on the story of John Darwin and Anne Darwin, the cast is led by Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan, who play a couple who, in dire financial times, resorted to an absurd scheme to fake John’s death in order to claim the money from the estate. life insurance.

For several years they seemed to have gotten away with it as they embarked on new adventures in a faraway sunny destination.

However, various slip-ups resulted in their being discovered, and their story was circulated around the world.

So is the thief, his wife and the canoe a true story and where are John and Anne Darwin now?

Is the thief, his wife and the canoe based on a true story?

Incredibly, The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe is based on a true story that made its way into the newspapers and garnered media attention from the point of John’s disappearance to his and Anne’s arrest.

Eddie Marsan in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe

John came up with the bizarre plan (Picture: ITV/PA)

By the early 2000s, the couple ended up in serious debt, with former teacher John working as a prison officer at the time and Anne as a doctor’s receptionist.

The couple also had a room rental business with 12 houses, but after buying two houses in Seaton Carew in December 2000, they were on the verge of bankruptcy.

Instead of trying to think of a legal solution, John conceived a plan to fake his own death in 2002 so that he and Anne could claim the life insurance money.

John’s plan was to try to fool the people who had disappeared after taking his canoe into the North Sea, hoping the masses would think he drowned.

John Darwin and Anne Darwin

Both husband and wife faced prison sentences (Image: PA Wire)

In March of that year, his canoe was found and he was presumed dead for several years, with Anne even having to convince her children of her lie.

Unbeknownst to them, their father lived in the house next door to theirs, which he and Anne had previously purchased.

A few years after John disappeared, he and Anne decided to move to Panama to start over, and John managed to get a passport under a false name.

In 2006, the couple made one of their biggest and most significant mistakes, when they were photographed by a real estate agent in Panama and their photo was uploaded to the Internet.

Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe and John Darwin with Anne Darwin

A bizarre recreation of the famous photo (Image: PA/Rex)

After Anne put the plan in motion to sell her house in the UK while they bought property in Panama in 2007, her cover-up came to an end.

Realizing that he would need to have his identity verified by UK police to obtain an investor visa in Panama, John came up with a new idea: return to the UK and feign amnesia to explain why he hadn’t returned. to his family in five years.

Anne continued to be a part of the act, feigning surprise when her husband seemingly came back from the dead.

However, the police already suspected Anne after a colleague of hers overheard a conversation she had with John on the phone.

Monica Dolan in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe

Real life Anne wrote a book telling her side of the story (Picture: ITV/PA)

As the case unfolded, the depths of his lies were revealed to the public and to his family, with his children saying in a statement that they wished no further contact with their parents after initially being elated at their father’s surprising return.

The photo of the Darwins in the estate agent’s office, taken in 2006, four years after John’s disappearance, was found on Google Images and published in the Daily Mirror following its discovery.

In 2008, after being arrested and brought to trial, both husband and wife were found guilty of fraud, with John sentenced to six years and three months in prison and Anne three months longer than her spouse.

However, John was released from prison on parole in January 2011, and Anne was also released two months later.

Where are John and Anne Darwin now?

After marrying in December 1973, John and Anne divorced following the debacle of the canoe’s disappearance.

Monica Dolan as Anne Darwin, Mark Stanley as Mark Darwin, and Dominic Aapplewhite as Anthony Darwin, in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe

Mark Stanley and Dominic Applewhite play sons Mark and Anthony respectively in the four-part series (Picture: ITV/PA)

While John remarried in 2015 and moved to Manila in the Philippines where he lives with his second wife, Anne is retired and lives in the north of England.

After the public denunciation of her children, Anne was finally able to reconcile with her children and is a part of their lives, as well as that of her grandchildren.

In 2016, she published a memoir called Out Of My Depth with David Leigh, the journalist who originally broke Anne’s story in the newspaper after locating her.

“After years of remaining silent, Anne Darwin finally reveals the truth behind the crime that tore her family apart,” reads the book’s blurb.

The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe airs tonight at 9pm on ITV and will be available to watch on the ITV Hub.

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MORE: Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan on why they didn’t meet John and Anne Darwin to prepare for ITV’s The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe

MORE: The son of a real-life canoeing couple who faked her husband’s death snuck onto the set of the ITV drama in disguise and no one knew


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