The Thief His Wife and The Canoe writer responds to criticism

The thief, his wife and the canoe was ITV’s big Easter Sunday drama, telling the real-life story of ‘Canoe Man’ John Darwin, who faked his death in 2002 in an insurance scam.

The first episode of the drama revealed the difficult financial situation of John and his wife Anne, and followed them as John embarked on their plan.

However, viewers were confused in two ways by the show.

Anne Darwin and Sons

Anne even had to pretend to her own sons that their father was dead (Image credit: ITV)

First, some took to social media to criticize the accents used by actors playing John and Anne, Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan. The show is set in Hartlepool, but critics thought the cast missed the mark by miles.

“Eddie Marsan does an accent straight out of Byker Grove,” one joked. While another added: ‘Since when do we have a Geordie accent if we live in Hartlepool?’

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Fortunately, screenwriter Chris Lang – who is also the creator of the hit crime drama Unforgotten – was quickly on hand to set the record straight.

He revealed the couple were not from Seaton Carew in Hartlepool, where the show was taking place. but had settled there after living in many places, including Newcastle and Durham.

“It’s great that people are so passionate about their own accent,” he said. “John and Anne were of course not from Seaton Carew, they only moved there in 2002.”

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Anne Darwin (Monica Dolan) and John Darwin (Eddie Marsan) stand beside a canoe for The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe.

(Image credit: ITV)

Meanwhile, others thought there was a more fundamental error in the show – it appeared that John had embarked on his kayaking scam, not the show’s title ‘canoe’ .

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Chris explained that the program was accurate in its depiction of what happened. However, the show’s title was taken from the fact that when the story became a worldwide sensation, John was quickly dubbed “The Canoe Man”.

Chris revealed: ‘All the newspapers at the time reported it as a canoe. So we decided to stick with that rather than using the title “The Thief, His Wife, and It’s a Kayak Actually” – adding a cheeky winking emoji at the end.

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The thief, his wife and the canoe continues Easter Monday, April 18 at 9 p.m.