Image for Canoe ManNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 59 minutes

It was the story that gripped a nation.

John Darwin was a real life Reggie Perrin who faked his death to fund a better life, disappearing at sea in a canoe, while his wife, Anne, played the grieving widow. Even the couple's sons were fooled.

This compelling drama documentary has collaboration from the journalist who had exclusive access to Anne Darwin in the vital few days before her arrest and to whom she confessed all.

As the story unraveled in the glare of the media spotlight, Anne Darwin desperately tried to keep the lie intact.

This unique telling of this extraordinary tale uses as its basis the three very different versions of the story Anne Darwin told to try and fool the press and the police.

Last on

Wed 9 Feb 2011 02:40 BBC Four

  • Photo: The canoe man sets off

    Photo: The canoe man sets off

    On 21 March 2002, witnesses saw John Darwin (played by Bernard Hill) entering the sea with his kayak in the Seaton Carew area near Hartlepool, Teesside.

  • Photo: Anne Darwin and her sons

    Photo: Anne Darwin and her sons

    Anne Darwin (played by Saskia Reeves, centre) walks on the coast with her sons Anthony (Jeremy Legat, left) and Mark (Philip Correia, right). The sons believed for five years that their father was dead, and when the truth was revealed said that they felt as if they had been "the victims of a large scam".

    BBC News: Canoeist sons - statement in full
  • BBC TV Blog

    BBC TV Blog

    Head over to the BBC TV Blog, where BBC Four controller Richard Klein considers why the strange story of John and Anne Darwin makes such suitable material for a drama.

    BBC TV Blog: Why does the Darwins' story stick in our minds?


Kate Ambler
Pepe Balderrama
Peter Cellier
Mark Darwin
Philip Correia
Emelia Dobie
John Darwin
Bernard Hill
Anthony Darwin
Jeremy Legat
Philip McGough
Desk Sergeant
Carl Proctor
Anne Darwin
Saskia Reeves
Mary Roscoe
DS Twist
Jeremy Swift
Bill Thomas
Norman Hull
Flavia Taylor
Norman Hull


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