"The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe" is a four part drama documentary series produced by ITV here in Great Britain. I have watched all episodes this past week and I must say, I have been thoroughly entertained.
The show tells the story of John Darwin and his wife Anne. John was one of those guys who sought financial success but never knew how to get there. He was something of a fantasist, hatching schemes and making unwise investments. He refused to be beaten.
When his financial woes seemed to be catching up with him, he had one final cunning plan up his sleeve. Optimistically, he thought this scheme would be watertight - if you will please excuse the pun! He would take his old canoe down to the shoreline at Seaton Carew and paddle out into The North Sea - never to be seen again. At least that was the impression he wanted to leave behind.
Later, his long-suffering wife Anne would claim thousands of pounds on his life insurance policy and they would then be walking in clover with all their worries behind them. He hatched a supplementary plan. They would go to live in Panama, buy a nice apartment and some land and live happily ever after.
Of course things didn't quite work out that way and the couple both ended up in prison, reviled by their beloved grown up sons who were lied to throughout the process, believing that their father was dead. Can you imagine that?
The drama focuses mainly on Anne Darwin and how she was coerced by her domineering husband to go along with his crazy plans. It had been the same throughout their marriage. She was mousey and uncomplaining. It was easiest to just to submit to John's will. After all, he was her husband and he didn't hit her or bully her physically. However, it was clear that for years she had been subjected to psychological intimidation.
At her trial, the jury and the presiding judge refused to see things her way. They concluded that she was an adult and had willingly gone along with John's fraudulent plans. She could have said "No!" at any time or owned up to the police but she chose instead to perpetuate the lies.
Near the end of her prison sentence, Anne found the courage to divorce John and try to build an independent life repairing fractured relations with her sons. He went off to The Philippines where he married a much younger woman. No doubt his fantasy life continues. He is now 71 and Anne is 70. The crazy canoe plan was hatched in 2002.
Fascinating story, and, yes, she could have said No at any time, and how she looked her children in the faces and lied to them about their father's death is disgusting.ReplyDelete
The drama depicts a particular "truth" in which John Darwin was wholly to blame but that may not have been the true "truth".Delete
A very entertaining drama; Eddie Marsan was a great choice to play John Darwin. Sarah could hardly believe these events actually happened!ReplyDelete
I am glad that you enjoyed this drama-documentary as much as me Sue.Delete
I wonder if they made the news here in Australia. I vaguely remember hearing about something like that. It could have been them.ReplyDelete
It's not the kind of thing that fraudsters do every day.Delete
Sometimes it is hard to find the courage to resist a domineering partner.ReplyDelete
It was a fascinating drama and I am still not sure what I think of Anne and what she did. I also watched the subsequent interview with the real Anne and the cops who had been involved, and I think that the fact she had met John when she was about 15, and knew no other relationship was a factor. One of the police said that they hadn't searched the house well enough. I thought that at the time of the drama, as to why hadn't they discovered the door joining the 2 houses.ReplyDelete
I guess that the connecting door was not the kind of "evidence" they were half-expecting to find. It might have seemed just too bizarre.Delete
I‘ve never heard of this couple and their plan gone wrong.ReplyDelete
An abusive relationship can take many forms, and they are all complex and never just black or white. Usually, there is a threshold crossed early on, and once that point is reached and the pattern is set, it is extremely difficult to break it.
Good to know Anne has managed to do that.
I am not sure what the true story was. I understand that John Darwin has now fled to Ukraine to fight against Putinism... at the age of 71!Delete
My husband lost tens of thousands on stupid schemes. I was powerless to stop him, all I could do was block his access to my income.ReplyDelete
Truth is stranger than fiction
I am sorry to hear that Kylie. It must have been so hard for you looking on and feeling powerless to stop him. Some people never learn from their mistakes.Delete
I have a vague recollection of the case. Sad that some people fantasise and expend huge amounts of brain energy on how to make easy money instead of doing a proper day's work like most of us. Once again a woman is the victim.ReplyDelete
It's not something I can remember reading about in the papers, or seeing the TV version.ReplyDelete
I'm pretty sure I could not have gone along with such huge lie - something that had to be constantly lived, as well as spoken about. But then some husbands dominate their wives to the extent that the poor woman is totally unable to think, or act, for herself.
It has echoes of the Reginald Perrin TV series, where he left his clothes on the beach and successfully "pretended" to commit suicide by swimming out to sea. Perhaps that gave John the idea!
You could be right about that connection Carol. By the way, did you and your late husband flee to Spain for a similar reason?Delete
It sounds like an intriguing documentary. I just looked it up and it appears I can watch it on YouTube. Interesting enough, I was skimming the comments on You Tube and one commenter said Anne had once been the receptionist at her doctor's office. She claimed "Anne was a nasty piece if work" and the meek, emotionally abused Anne portrayed in the documentary was not to be believed. I have a feeling her opinion of Anne is now ingrained in me.ReplyDelete
Another drama-documentary on this same story was recently aired by the BBC. It was called "Canoe Man". I haven't seen that one yet but I will.Delete
I watched the series and couldn't get over what a horrible man he was and what a doormat she was. How she could go along with his crazy schemes and lie to her sons, I don't know.ReplyDelete
Was it the truth or just the writer's interpretation of the truth?Delete
I grew up in a house where the father emotionally and psychologically abused his wife and children and I can see how this could happen. I have to say though, that I am still angry at my mother for not leaving the man until the children were grown. One never really knows what goes on in a marriage or in a mind.ReplyDelete
Wasn't there a song that said, "No one knows what goes on behind closed doors"? And that is very true.Delete
The couple have such ordinary faces, I'm not sure how they expected to keep so many plates in the air with their lying. Did not watch it by the way but I see it is on Youtube.ReplyDelete
They could have just stayed in Panama but John Darwin had the stupid idea of returning to England - turning up in a police station and saying he had had amnesia. Of course Anne Darwin had to go along with it - or she felt she had to.Delete
I watched this too. I enjoyed it and am very grateful that I'm married to an honest, hard-working man and not some Walter Mitty type character!ReplyDelete
I wonder how John Darwin turned out like that. Must have been something in his childhood.Delete
Wikipedia didn't say anything about the divorce and Philippines aspect. Is this just part of the show or did it actually happen too?ReplyDelete
He really did move to The Philippines and he really did marry a Filipino woman. Now I have read that he has gone to Ukraine to fight The Putinists.Delete
My comment must have gone to the bin, where it probably belongs.ReplyDelete
I've heard about this series. We need to watch it, once we get finished with "Anatomy of a Scandal." Eddie Marsan plays a very convincing abusive husband. Did you ever see him in "Tyrannosaur"?ReplyDelete