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ITV announce cast for new drama about 'canoe man' John Darwin who faked his own death

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ITV has unveiled the cast for its new drama telling the story of 'canoe man' John Darwin.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe has been written by acclaimed screenwriter Chris Lang and will star renowned actors Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan.

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BIFA nominee Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, Sherlock Holmes, Happy Go Lucky) plays John Darwin who faked his own death to claim life insurance and avoid bankruptcy while BAFTA-winner Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult, W1A, A Very English Scandal) plays his wife Anne.

Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan will be joined in the cast by Mark Stanley (White House Farm) and Karl Pilkington (Sick of It, Derek).

Writer Chris Lang said: “I am beyond delighted to be working with two of the finest actors of their generation. I have admired them both from afar for many years (not in a creepy way though) and cannot wait to see them bring Anne and John Darwin to life.”

Eddie Marsan commented: “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.

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"As breath-taking 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.”

A synopsis of the series shares: "The drama will focus on how Anne Darwin became complicit in her husband’s deception as she started to convince the world, their family and friends, the police and insurance companies, that he had gone missing in 2002 whilst canoeing off the coast of Seaton Carew in Cleveland, where the couple owned two large houses with panoramic views of the sea.

"The deception was to take its toll on Anne who lied to their sons, Mark and Anthony, for five years whilst her husband, in the early days of the fraud, secretly lived in a bedsit next door to the home he shared with Anne.

"Devastated by the loss of their father, neither son had an inkling their parents were capable of such treachery. Anne and John Darwin eventually decided to leave Seaton Carew and move to Panama City to start a new life together before their secret was exposed by the discovery of an infamous photo of them posing in a Panama real estate office in July 2006.

"At her trial Anne Darwin pleaded not guilty, arguing that she had been coerced into the plot by her husband, but the jury didn’t believe her. She and her husband were both jailed for more than 6 years."

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The four-part drama films in the North East this month (April), directed by BAFTA winner Richard Laxton, (Honour, Mrs Wilson, Mum).

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe is based upon the unpublished manuscript written by journalist David Leigh who was the first journalist to track down Anne as she was on the verge of setting up a new life in Panama.

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