3.9k Share this

Viewers across the country have been gripped this past week by the latest ITV drama to hit our screens The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe.

The four part drama which began on Easter Sunday dramatises the unbelievable real-life insurance scam staged by John and Anne Darwin, which involved faking John’s death.

John Darwin faked his own death in a now infamous ‘canoe accident’ back in 2002, with his wife reporting him missing shortly afterwards.

READ MORE: John and Anne Darwin’s son sneaks onto set of new ITV drama about fake canoe death scandal

Following an extensive search by emergency services and no sign of him, John was declared legally dead, but in reality, the former prison officer has actually gone into hiding next door to their family home the entire time.

The cunning ploy had been orchestrated so that his wife Anne could cash in a life insurance policy and clear the huge amount of debt the couple had found themselves in.

However neither John nor Anne had informed their sons that this was what they were doing, with their two boys left to mourn the loss of their father despite him living just yards from the family home.

Anthony Darwin, right and brother Mark Darwin leave the court last night with wife Louise and girlfriend Felicity. Their mother was convicted to six and a half years in jail for money laundering.
Anthony Darwin, right, and brother Mark Darwin, left, leave the court after their mother’s conviction
(Image: Daily Mirror)

Twenty years on from the scandal, John and Anne not only had to rebuild their relationships with their sons, they also had grandchildren to meet.

The former couple lied to their two sons, Mark and Anthony, while they faked John’s death so Anne could cash in on his his £250,000 life insurance policy.

Mark and Anthony, who comforted their mother and mourned the loss of their father while he was living just yards away, discovered the shock truth and the same time as the rest of the world.

Understandably angry, confused and betrayed Mark and Anthony vowed never to speak to their parents again.

Anne Darwin met her two sons and grandchild in prison
(Image: ITV)

In 2018, Mark said: “It was a cruel act of betrayal that no parent should ever inflict on their children – the pain and suffering it caused me and my brother is indescribable. The horror of the discovery, my sheer fury and what they put me though, is something that will taint my life forever.”

However, twenty years on from the ordeal Mark and Anthony have managed to reconcile with their mother, Anne, who has now become a doting grandmother who lives a quiet life in York.

John and Anne were eventually rumbled by the authorities for their insurance scam and sentenced to six years and three months, and six years and six months respectively.

What did you think of The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Anne told The Guardian: “After the truth came out that we’d been living in Panama together, I continually wrote to Mark and Anthony to say, ‘I am so sorry. I really do love you.

“But they refused to see or talk to me. The first time I set eyes on them [afterwards] was at my trial when Mark was the first to testify against me. After he left the witness box, he only lifted his eyes fleetingly to meet mine. I was totally shocked by how dark and full of anger they were. To see that was absolutely horrendous.”

Mark later decided to visit his mother in Low Newton Prison shortly after her trial, however, their first encounter was short, stiff and formal.

The relationship did slowly progress and the two started to slowly build bridges, much later Anthony also reluctantly agreed to face his mother for the first time following her conviction.

The ITV show portrayed the moment Anne met her grandchild in prison
(Image: ITV)

In 2010 Anne was transferred to Askham open prison, near York, where she got the shock of her life when Anthony and his wife Louise turned up with her grandson who she didn’t even know existed.

“Anne walked nervously down Askham Grange’s gravel drive, barely daring to believe Anthony would be there waiting. But he was,” explained journalist David Leigh

“So too was his wife Louise. They had driven 200 miles north from their home to introduce Anne to the grandson of whose existence she had no idea.”

In March 2011, Anne was released from prison in March after serving half of her sentence, while her ex-husband John, left two months before.

Since their release, Mark has said that he has forgiven his mother to a certain extent but admitted he would not trust either of his parents on financial matters.

Mark, who lives in Hertfordshire with wife and two children, said he could never do to his children what his parents did to him.

The infamous photo of Anne and John Darwin in Panama which led the world to realise that John was in fact not dead
The infamous photo of Anne and John Darwin in Panama which led the world to realise that John was in fact not dead

However, progress was made in 2016 when Mark invited Anne to join the family on a holiday in Spain and they posed for a loving photograph together.

At the time he told The Mail: “Never, then, would I have ever dreamed I would be happily posing with my mother.

“What I have gone through to get to a stage where I can forgive has been tough. It’s taken deep thought and a difficult process of accepting her faults.”

Mark went on to explain that he only discovered his mother was in on the scam from the start on the first day in court.

Every bit of information he discovered was only learned through the media or at the trial.

He said: “I have forgiven her, to some degree, but I will never understand. Nor forget. I’ve even got over, to some extent, the gnawing need to know why. Why do it to us? Nothing can describe the kick in the teeth I felt when I discovered she had been in on the entire thing

Mark has had some contact with his father and when asked if he could ever forgive him, he simply replied: “Perhaps”.

Adding “But at least I have my family,’ again he pauses, ‘not intact, never again intact. But they are present. They are alive. Do I feel the same about them? No. No, I don’t. But the love is there. It’s just… different. I love my mother. Just not in that childhood, all-encompassing way. Do I trust them? Yes, I do, but only in so far as it wouldn’t adversely affect me.”

His brother, Anthony, has had a much more difficult time forgiving his parents, he does have a relationship with Anne to some extent, however, much more distanced than mark but he refuses to speak to his father at all.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe is available for catch up on ITV Hub now.

Amazon Prime has thousands of original series, sport documentaries and films you can subscribe to watch here for just £7.99/ month plus a free month trial included.

Disney+ is here in the UK and if paid for an annual subscription can save viewers 15%, giving you access to Disney and Pixar films, and popular series such as The Mandalorian. New O2 customers, or existing customers who are upgrading their plan, can get up to 6 free months of Disney+.

Also, Apple TV offer a free trial for seven days but just remember that the subscription will renew automatically at £4.99/a month, so don’t forget to cancel if you don’t want it anymore.

Netflix is available on your smartphone, tablet, smart TV, laptop or streaming device, all for one fixed monthly fee. Plans range from £5.99 to £13.99 a month. No extra costs, no contracts.

Source: This post first appeared on

3.9k Share this
You May Also Like

The Small Town Is Coming With More Stories!

Virgin River on Netflix is like a warm embrace of every emotion. …

American Idol: Noah Thompson wins season 20 of ABC singing show in three-hour finale

American Idol: Noah Thompson wins season 20 of ABC singing competition in…

Unsellable houses Season 3 Release Date: And Many More You Need To Know !

Unsellable Houses Season 3: After a successful second season, Unsellable Houses returns…

Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous, Season 5: Confirmed Release Date, Trailer Know Everything !

Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous is an American animated science fiction action-adventure streaming…

Racket Boys Season 2: Release Date You should Know Everything !

Racket Boys Season 2 : A ragged group of badminton players from…

Ricky Gervais Shares His Take On Chris Rock’s Jada Pinkett Smith Oscars Joke, And How He Ended Up Trending After The Will Smith Slap

While the 2022 Academy Awards happened two months ago, the discourse surrounding…

Truth Be Told Season 3 Release Date We Know Everything !

Truth Be Told Season 3 : Detectives are tasked with proving a…

Chris Pratt Reveals The Name Of His Second Child With Katherine Schwarzenegger While Sharing Post About Feeling ‘Grateful’

Fans of Jurassic World: Dominion star Chris Pratt got a nice surprise…