The Thief His Wife and the Canoe does rather seem an odd situation to make a TV series out of, but then I remember it happening at the time, and rather than feel like a big deal, John Darwin just seemed like a complete idiot more than anything else.
It begins as one of those dramas which shows the story having advanced to near the end – as Monica is on the run from the press in 2007, before going back to the beginning.
In short, John Darwin (Eddie Marsan) has a canoe, and an idea… He hasn’t used it for a while, but wants to establish the community’s knowledge that he’s back with his love canoeing again. In the meantime, he’ll also put together a survival kit. The long and the short of it, is that he’ll sail off, making it look as if he can’t be found after heading into the waters, and wants his wife to sound the alarm to the authorities, make him appear to be assumed dead, collect the life insurance and then they run off. And the upside, is that all their debts are paid off!
Sounds impossible, yes?
Well, anyone who remembers the situation at the time will know where John really hid out at the time, but I won’t give any ‘spoilers’ for anyone who doesn’t know, so you’ll need to watch this for yourself to find out. It’s safe to say that John Darwin wasn’t the brightest tool in the box, and that things won’t go as smooth as he thinks.
The title is obviously in reference to Peter Greenaway’s sumptious – but pretentious – 1989 movie, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, which is well worth watching.
As an aside, a few minutes in, Monica uses her combi microwave, and it’s the same one I used to have from late 1998 until just recently when I had to get rid of it because the microwave part stopped working.
In The Thief His Wife and the Canoe, we have two great leads in Mr Marsan and Monica Dolan (Alan Partridge Alpha Papa), as his wife Anne, and both put in good performances in the opener, but if you think the plot could never happen in real life, well…
So, while the first episode isn’t brilliant, it’s worth watching, and I’ll add any updates after each episode, if required.
UPDATE Episode 3:
UPDATE Episode 4:
Series Score: 7/10
Director: Richard Laxton
Producer: Alison Stirling
Writer: Chris Lang
Music: Harry Escott, Ben Pearson
John Darwin: Eddie Marsan
Mark Darwin: Mark Stanley
Anne Darwin: Monica Dolan
Anthony Darwin: Dominic Applewhite
Anne’s father: Ellis Jones
Anne’s mother: Carrie Cohen
Louise: Alice Harding
DC Phil Bayley: Karl Pilkington
DS Paul Sampson: Andrew Lancel
Dave Leigh: David Fynn
Flick: Francesca Knight
John’s father: Freddie Davies
DSupt Hutch Hutchinson: Deka Walmsley
Michael: Colin R Campbell
John’s solicitor: Tom Bonington
Stefano: Zé Bernardino
DC June Ayoade: Lois Chimimba
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.