Eddie Marsan to play back-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin in ITV series

The actor said the story was ‘fascinating, and if it weren't fact, you'd think it unbelievable'.

Eddie Marsan is to star alongside Monica Dolan in an ITV drama about the real-life case of John Darwin, who faked his own death as part of an insurance scam.

Darwin went missing in 2002 while canoeing off the coast of Seaton Carew in Cleveland, where the couple owned two large houses.

The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe will tell the story of how Anne Darwin, played by Dolan, became complicit in her husband’s deception, allowing them to collect his life insurance.

Missing canoeist memoirs revealed
John Darwin (Cleveland Police/PA)

She lied to their sons, Mark and Anthony, for five years while her husband secretly lived in a bedsit.

Eventually they moved to Panama City, before their secret was exposed by the discovery of a photo showing them in an estate agents’ office in July 2006.

The Darwins were jailed for more than six years.

The four-part drama, written by Unforgotten’s Chris Lang, begins filming in the North East this month and is produced by Story Films.

It is based on an unpublished manuscript written by journalist David Leigh, who was the first reporter to find Ms Darwin as she was starting her new life in Panama.

The Olivier Awards 2018 – London
Monica Dolan (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Marsan said: “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.”

Dolan said: “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.

“As breathtaking 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.”

They are joined in the cast by White House Farm actor Mark Stanley and Derek’s Karl Pilkington.

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