Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our website.

Monica Dolan discusses ‘tragedy’ of Canoe Man’s wife Anne

Monica Dolan discusses 'tragedy' of Canoe Man's wife Anne 2

Monica Dolan has told how she has found other people were more sympathetic towards her charactrer Anne Darwin than she is in the new Canoe Man series.

The actress, 53, stars as Anne in ITV’s The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe while Eddie Marsan stars as her husband John who faked his own death in an insurance scam.

Advertisement

Speaking to Radio Times, Monica said she thinks Anne’s tragedy was that she tried to please everyone and was incapable of making clear decisions.

Candid: Monica Dolan has told how she has found other people were more sympathetic towards her charactrer Anne Darwin than she is in the new Canoe Man series

Candid: Monica Dolan has told how she has found other people were more sympathetic towards her charactrer Anne Darwin than she is in the new Canoe Man series

With much of the show centering around whether or not Anne should be forgiven for her inolvement in her husband’s crime, Monica said: ‘I can’t think of anything that divides people more than forgiveness. 

Advertisement

‘I found that other people were more sympathetic to Anne than I was. She was very good at her job and her secretarial work involved people management.’

She added: ‘Her tragedy was that she avoided decisions and tried to please everyone. But you can’t go through life not making a decision. Not making a decision is a decision.’

Monica said she thinks Anne’s defense of ‘martial coercion’ was never going to work but added that she thinks her sentence of six years and six months was a long one.

Advertisement
Role: The actress, 53, stars as Anne in ITV's The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe while Eddie Marsan stars as her husband John who faked his own death in an insurance scam

Role: The actress, 53, stars as Anne in ITV’s The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe while Eddie Marsan stars as her husband John who faked his own death in an insurance scam

Monica, who previously played serial killer Rosemary West, said she looks at her characters in a ‘clincal way’, especially those who are based on real people. 

The Darwins’ jaw-dropping deception tricked insurers, police and even their two sons into believing the ex-prison officer had died in a North Sea accident.

Advertisement

The couple started a new life in Panama but the tale unravelled when John came back from the dead in 2007 claiming to have suffered amnesia.

They were jailed for the fraud and the extent of the parents’ deception shocked the world.

Real life: Monica said she thinks Anne's tragedy was that she tried to please everyone and was incapable of making clear decisions (the real John and Anne Darwin pictured in 2006)

Real life: Monica said she thinks Anne’s tragedy was that she tried to please everyone and was incapable of making clear decisions (the real John and Anne Darwin pictured in 2006)

Advertisement

The show explores the extent of Anne’s culpability and how much she was forced to go along with her husband’s plan.

Anne’s inner monologue narrates the story, while Eddie Marsan plays narcissistic John with a glint in his eye.

The script, at times funny, gives Anne a sympathetic hearing without shying away from the incredible hurt she inflicted on her loved ones.

Advertisement

The sons, Anthony and Mark, are shown supporting their supposedly widowed mother for years, throwing wreaths into the North Sea in front of Anne’s home where their father was hiding next door.

Sad: The sons, Anthony and Mark, are shown supporting their supposedly widowed mother for years, throwing wreaths into the North Sea in front of Anne's home where their father was hiding next door

Sad: The sons, Anthony and Mark, are shown supporting their supposedly widowed mother for years, throwing wreaths into the North Sea in front of Anne’s home where their father was hiding next door

When the sons visit her in Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, John listens to their conversations through the dividing walls.

Advertisement

Writer Chris Lang wanted the audience to debate among themselves just how much to blame Anne.

The final of four episodes shows her efforts to rebuild her family life in a way John – remarried and living in the Philippines – has not.

Her attempts at reconciliation and her obvious feelings of guilt – in counterpoint to John – give the story a fresh twist.

Advertisement

Lang said: ‘Good people do bad things. Let’s try and understand, let’s try and forgive because if her sons could forgive her, I would hope that we can as well.’

Shocking: The Darwins' jaw-dropping deception tricked insurers, police and even their two sons into believing the ex-prison officer had died in a North Sea accident

Shocking: The Darwins’ jaw-dropping deception tricked insurers, police and even their two sons into believing the ex-prison officer had died in a North Sea accident

Marsan said even the crew were divided by what they made of Anne.

Advertisement

During her trial at Teesside Crown Court, she used the unusual defence of marital coercion, claiming her domineering husband had forced her to go through with the massive deception.

It failed, but some observers have said that in a post-Me Too world, her explanation would get a more sympathetic hearing.

Marsan said: ‘There’s a generational interpretation of the story. The older female members of the crew felt that she should have taken more responsibility and the younger ones felt that she was a victim.’

Advertisement

Dolan hoped the audience will ‘yo-yo’ in their feelings towards Anne, saying: ‘We can feel guilty but still do things.’

The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe airs on ITV on Sunday April 17 at 9pm.          

The latest issue of Radio Times is on sale now. 

Advertisement
Interview: The latest issue of Radio Times is on sale now

Interview: The latest issue of Radio Times is on sale now

Advertisement

About The Author