John and Anne Darwin actors on why they kept Hartlepool accents off-screen

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe: ITV shares first look at series

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John and Anne Darwin are in the spotlight in ITV’s The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe. Eddie Marsan plays John in the TV series, based on real events, and he faked his own death in order to secure life insurance money to pay off debts. Marsan and Dolan spoke to Express.co.uk and other press about keeping their Hartlepool accents off-screen.

The limited series recalls the true events of the infamous ‘canoe man’ case.

In 2002, John Darwin fooled the world into thinking he had died in a canoeing accident out at sea.

He told his wife Anne to report him as missing, and he was eventually presumed dead.

This meant Anne could claim John’s life insurance and they could pay off their mounting bills.

In the series, the couple reside in the seaside resort of Seaton Carew in Hartlepool.

Anne actress Monica Dolan said she and Marsan would only speak to each other in Hartlepool accents.

She told Express.co.uk and other media: “We had these cabins next to each other and you [Eddie] sort of came out of yours going ‘I’m going to talk like that [in accent], are you?’

“‘I’m talking like that already,’ so we had an amazing dialect coach and she talked like that all the time as well.

“But yeah, I don’t know, it sort of cuts out another thing.”

Marsan said it was less pressure to stay in character even when the cameras were off.

He said: “You don’t want to have to think about it while you are doing the scene.

“Because there are so many other things to think about, you do that in order to not worry about it.”

He joked that he had no idea what Dolan sounded like in real life.

Yet the series has received a lot of backlash from viewers who claim the accents are inaccurate.

Just a few minutes into the series premiere, viewers took to Twitter to air their grievances.

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New episodes have been airing daily since Sunday and the criticism has continued.

Hannah Arrowsmith said after the latest episode: “Only one thing to say about #thethiefhiswifeandthecanoe what on earth is that Hartlepool accent!?”

Doddsy said: “I doff my cap to any actor brave enough to take on an accent (particularly a northeast accent) and suffer the Twitter onslaught.

“I’m a Durham boy – the accent changes from village to village and is heavily influenced by family too. #thethiefhiswifeandthecanoe.”

Vicky Tinnion exclaimed: “#thethiefhiswifeandthecanoe THEY WERE NOT GEORDIES!!

“Why have they got a Geordie accent! They were from Hartlepool it’s a completely different accent.”

Still, plenty of fans praised the two leading actors for their “good effort”.

The series finale airs tonight and it will see John and Anne get interviewed by the police.

The case goes to trial when Anne finally makes a stand against her husband, citing marital coercion.

Their sons are heartbroken to discover the truth but they are capable of forgiveness.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe concludes tonight at 9pm on ITV.

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