Anne and John Darwin writer on how history could happen to others

Screenwriter Chris Lang hopes new ITV factual drama The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe will strike a chord with viewers, suggesting many will understand the ‘extraordinary solution’ John and Anne Darwin have taken to tackle their debt.

The upcoming four-part ITV series is based on the incredible true story of Hartlepool couple, the Darwins, who faked the death of her husband John in a supposed canoeing accident in 2002.

When asked if he thought the drama would strike a chord with viewers, the Unforgotten writer said: “I hope so. I’m sure many of us have come up with extraordinary solutions to our problems, then retreated from the precipice. The only difference between us and the Darwins is that they jumped.”

The couple, played on the show by Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan, faked John’s death as part of a life insurance scam, even lying to their own children. Their eventual discovery, arrest and prison sentence in 2008 shocked the nation.

Anne Darwin and her sons TVI

“In many ways, John Darwin is a relatively easy character to understand (this is the story of a narcissist) but Anne is much more complex, so to try to understand how a mother could have committed such a crime obnoxious, I decided to place her in the center of the room and then create a device that allowed us to hear her inner monologue, her actual thought processes,” Lang explained.

On why he didn’t downplay the terrible thing Anne did, he added: “We owe it to the sons, the real victims of John and Anne’s crimes, to be honest.

“I can’t imagine a greater betrayal than a mother telling you your father is dead when she knows he’s actually still alive. That? That seems unthinkable to any parent.

Read more: The true story of the thief, his wife and the canoe: what the Anne and John Darwin series is based on

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe will start at 9pm on April 17 on ITV and ITV Hub. 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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