Posted by: Paul | April 1, 2010

Canoe Man

Saskia Reeves and Bernard Hill in 'Canoe Man'

“How does a dead man kill time?”

So said Ann Darwin, wife of the infamous “Canoe Man”, John. BBC4 seem to have quite a good thing going at the moment with their (fairly) lighthearted dramatisations of high profile news stories from recent years. First the John Prescott affair last year, then On Expenses a few weeks ago (see recent column), and now this. I certainly remember reading the news stories when it happened and thinking, “You couldn’t make this up. Someone is going to make a film out of this.”

It was really a quite incredible story. Man is assisted by wife in faking his own death. Wife is put through the wringer – having to tell friends and – worst of all – their children that John was dead. Grilled by the Police, identifying a body which wasn’t his, inquest, before finally the death certificate is signed and she gets the desired huge insurance payout. And all the while Ann has a dead man living in a bedsit next door.

Darwin himself was wonderfully, selfishly played by Bernard Hill (King Theoden of Lord of the Rings fame). Most at home playing bluff northerners, this part was perfect for him, and he even looks a bit like Darwin – especially in the recreation of the famous police photo. The same with Saskia Reeves actually – every inch the dowdy Ann. My only criticism of the show was that you didn’t really get that sense of time passing – it was five whole years between him faking his death and walking into a police station to give himself up.

I’m aware this is TV reviews 2 days in a row. I try to avoid writing about the same topic consecutively if I can but this was too much fun to ignore, and always best to publish reviews the day after something goes out. Look, it’s not like all I do is watch TV, OK? I play the occasional videogame too you know!

(On that subject I also just finished Bioshock 2. What a great game – and it knows when to quit too, as the only minor criticism I had with the first game is that it went on perhaps a bit too long – like a movie that has false endings and outstays it’s welcome by 20 minutes or so. Bioshock 2 never felt like a chore. Assassin’s Creed 2 is up next. Then, at long last, Heavy Rain. I’ve been saving that one up.)

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