ITV viewers settled down for the evening on Easter Sunday to watch the network’s latest offering. The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe is the gripping new drama that depicts the real-life story of John and Anne Darwin that once shocked the country.
It tells the story of John Darwin’s infamous fake death in 2002 that saw him head off in his canoe in the North Sea after asking his wife to lie about his true whereabouts and claim £250,000 in life insurance.
For years, John, who was born in Hartlepool, Country Durham but went to secondary school in Salford, lived in secret in a bedsit that adjoined the couple’s home near Hartlepool – visiting his wife through a door that connected the two old properties. After five years, the couple decided to start a new life in Panama but after realising their plan wouldn’t work, John went to the police station, feigning amnesia.
The first episode showed John’s plan getting underway while his distraught wife had to lie to the couple’s two sons. But as The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe viewers watched, some couldn’t help but spot an ‘insulting’ problem – the accents.
As mentioned John, being played in the ITV series by Eddie Marsan, was born in Hartlepool but attended school in Salford. He and his wife Anne, who is being portrayed by Monica Dolan, then later married in Blackhall between Horden and Hartlepool.
One viewer, @mhudson40, fumed on Twitter: “The thief, his wife and a canoe, so, why is it that ITV think people from Teesside speak with a Geordie accent. This happened in Hartlepool and we DO NOT have that accent!!!! Insulting!!!!”
“Watching The Thief, His Wife & The Canoe and I’m yet to hear a single Hartlepool accent…..” @EdwardHayesUK said.
@mat_hil quipped: “#Canoe recall a worse attempt at a northern accent? #TheThiefHisWifeAndTheCanoe.”
“Unless I am missing part of the story where they are originally from Newcastle, why are they talking in Geordie?! Seaton Carew is more Teesside than Tyneside! #thethiefhiswifeandthecanoe,” @Ali_Ali_Ali01 commented.
@jonnymrad added: “As a Hartlepudlian and Headlander, I can’t cope with the geography and accent inaccuracies. #thethiefhiswifeandthecanoe.”
But the writer behind ITV’s latest drama has responded. In a tweet posted on Sunday night (April 17), Chris Lang said: “It’s lovely people are so passionate about their own accents! John & Anne of course weren’t from Seaton Carew, they only moved there in 2002.
“They were both born near Blackhall & over the next five decades lived and worked in (to name a few) Newcastle, Chester Le Street & Durham.”
There was, however, another issue he wanted to quickly correct, tweeting prior to the episode airing: “I’ll say this now, and Ill say it just once, don’t @ me that it’s a bleedin’ kayak not a canoe.”