Entertainment

Monica Dolan talks about the “tragedy” of Canoe Man’s wife Anne


Monica Dolan has shared how she found other people to be more sympathetic towards her character 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 plays her husband John who faked his own death in an insurance scam.

Speaking to Radio Times, Monica said she believed Anne’s tragedy was that she tried to please everyone and was unable to make clear decisions.

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

With much of the show centered on whether or not Anne should be forgiven for her involvement in her husband’s crime, Monica said: ‘I don’t see anything that divides people more than forgiveness.

“I found other people to be more sympathetic to Anne than me. She was very good at her job and her secretarial work involved managing people.

She added: “Her tragedy was that she avoided decisions and tried to please everyone. But you can’t go through life without making a decision. Not making a decision is a decision.

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

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 a scam 'assurance

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 a scam ‘assurance

Monica, who previously played serial killer Rosemary West, said she looks at her characters in a “clinical way”, especially those that are based on real people.

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

The couple started a new life in Panama, but the story unfolded when John returned from the dead in 2007, claiming to have suffered from amnesia.

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

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

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

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

Anne’s interior monologue tells the story, while Eddie Marsan plays the narcissist John with a glint in his eye.

The scenario, sometimes funny, gives Anne a sympathetic ear without hiding from the incredible wound that she inflicted on those close to her.

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

Sad: The sons, Anthony and Mark, are shown supporting their allegedly widowed mother for years, throwing wreaths into the North Sea outside Anne's house where their father was hiding next door

Sad: The sons, Anthony and Mark, are shown supporting their allegedly widowed mother for years, throwing wreaths into the North Sea outside Anne’s house where their father was hiding next door

When the Sons visit him at Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, John listens in on their conversations through the dividing walls.

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

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

His attempts at reconciliation and his obvious feelings of guilt – as a counterpoint to John – give the story a new twist.

Lang said, “Good people do bad things. Let’s try to understand, try to forgive because if his sons could forgive him, I hope we can too.

Shocking: The Darwins' jaw-dropping deception led insurers, police and even their two sons to believe the former prison officer had died in a crash in the North Sea

Shocking: The Darwins’ jaw-dropping deception led insurers, police and even their two sons to believe the former prison officer had died in a crash in the North Sea

Marsan said even the crew was divided over what they thought of Anne.

During her trial at Teesside Crown Court, she used the unusual defense of marital coercion, claiming that her overbearing husband had forced her to undergo massive deception.

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

Marsan said: “There is a generational interpretation of history. The older women in the crew felt she should have taken on more responsibility, and the younger ones felt she was a victim.

Dolan hoped the audience would “yo-yo” their feelings for 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 9 p.m.

The latest issue of Radio Times is on sale now.

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

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

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