ITV Sets John Darwin True-Crime Drama; Unscripted Orders Include ‘Ready To Mingle’ & ‘Queen Unseen’

John Darwin and his ex-wife Anne
John Darwin and his ex-wife Anne AP

ITV has announced a glut of new content as part of a spring showcase, including revealing that it has greenlit a true-crime drama series on John Darwin, the former prison officer who was jailed for faking his own death.

All3Media-backed Story Films is making four-part series The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe, which is based on an unpublished manuscript written by journalist David Leigh. 

The series tells the true story of how debt-laden Darwin and his wife, Anne Darwin, came up with an elaborate scheme to defraud insurance companies by faking his death in a canoeing accident in 2002.

Anne told the world that her husband had gone missing off the coast of Cleveland, England, weaving a web of deceit that included lying to her sons about their own father’s death.

Anne and John later moved to Panama City to start a new life together before their secret was exposed by the discovery of an infamous photo of them posing in a real estate office in July 2006. They were jailed for more than six years. Leigh was the first journalist to find and interview Anne in Panama.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe is written by Innocent scribe Chris Lang, while Richard Laxton (Mrs Wilson) is the director. Executive producers are Lang, David Nath, Peter Beard, and Susie Liggat. Alison Sterling produces.

Elsewhere, ITV has turned to in-house production label Potato for new dating format, Ready to Mingle, which will broadcast on youth channel ITV2 in the fall.

It follows a single girl in the search for her perfect partner, as 12 male suitors compete for her affections and the chance to win a big money prize. But in a mischievous twist, not all of the boys are single, with a number of them being guided by their partners in pursuit of the prize for themselves.

Taking up residence in a luxurious house, the single girl will get to know all the boys through activities, games, and dates, eliminating each boy one-by-one until her ‘dream man’ remains. But can she figure out who is the real deal?

ITV has also commissioned a number of documentaries to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 95th birthday. This includes Factual Fiction’s Queen Unseen, featuring rare footage of Her Majesty, and Spun Gold’s My Years With The Queen: Four Weddings and a Funeral… and a Coronation. The latter features a first TV interview with the Queen’s second cousin Lady Pamela Hicks.

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