The Thief, His Wife, and the Canoe: Wild and Darkly Comedic Crime Drama Comes to TVNZ

REVIEW: John Darwin (Eddie Marsan) was a man who bought a Range Rover he couldn’t afford and then spent £3,000 on a personalized number plate.

One who wouldn’t just acquire #3, if he could trick the bank into letting him buy #4 as well.

Known for a string of insane get-rich-quick schemes, he always said he wasn’t “crazy, just a guy who thinks outside the box.”

These are all observations passed on to us by his long-suffering wife Anne (Monica Dolan) as part of her narration for The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe (which begins broadcasting on TVNZ OnDemand from noon on Monday, May 9). Based on a memoir by journalist David Leigh (who co-wrote a book with Anne in 2016), the four-parter dramatizes John’s elaborate real-life attempt to fake his own death in order to avoid bankruptcy and obtain a life insurance payment.

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When a Panamanian car chase opens in 2007, the story of writer Chris Lang (deservedly a veteran of The Bill and Hustle) and director Richard Laxton (Mrs. Wilson) truly begins in peaceful seaside town of Seaton Carew seven years earlier.

As Anne says, it was “the third worst Christmas of her life”. John’s latest big plan is to convert two rather dilapidated semi-detached waterfront houses into 13 studio apartments. Things are not going well. Despite working extra shifts in prison, he owes £64,000 on 13 credit cards – ‘never mind the mortgage’.

“Filing for bankruptcy won’t make me love you one iota less,” Anne assures him.

Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan star in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe.

Provided

Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan star in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe.

However, rather than face this shame, John thinks there is only one solution: perform an act of permanent disappearance. Horrified, Anne urges him to think about the feelings of their two boys.

“They’d be upset for a few weeks – then they’d get over it,” he reasons, before laying out his plan to take his canoe out one day, paddle a few miles up the coast, and then send it back. in the ocean, while it “survives in the wild for an indefinite amount of time”.

” What could be simpler ? ” she’s laughing about. “Maybe you could have plastic surgery and I could marry this new guy who looks a bit like you…I’m not telling such an awful lie to the police, our family or, more importantly, our two beautiful sons.”

But despite all his attempts to dissuade him or thwart him – notably by breaking his paddle – John Darwin is not for the detour.

The Thief, His Wife, and a Canoe is a gripping, darkly comic drama that lays bare the absurdity of John Darwin's enterprise, the pitfalls of his plan, and the ongoing machinations and deceit necessary to attempt to live a life so that he is supposed to be legally dead.

Provided

The Thief, His Wife, and a Canoe is a gripping, darkly comic drama that lays bare the absurdity of John Darwin’s enterprise, the pitfalls of his plan, and the ongoing machinations and deceit necessary to attempt to live a life so that he is supposed to be legally dead.

What follows is a gripping, darkly comic drama that lays bare the absurdity of his enterprise, the pitfalls of his plan, and the ongoing machinations and deceit necessary to attempt to live a life when he is supposedly legally dead.

An interesting companion piece for landscapers from last summer (where we joined in on the action as the unlikely perpetrators confessed to their crime), this is another fascinating character study and a “very British crime “Seemingly brilliantly staged through clever narration and two terrific performances.

Known for low-key but memorable turns like Ray Donovan and Still Life, Marsan is a perfect fit for the tricked-out John, while Dolan (Adult Appropriate, A Very English Scandal) is pretty brilliant – both as a voice guide to the action. – and like the increasingly tense wife caught in the tangled web created by her husband’s big lie. The TV Baftas are surely waiting for them both.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe will start broadcasting on TVNZ OnDemand at noon on Monday, May 9.