Hartlepool canoe man John Darwin inspires storyline on BBC TV soap EastEnders

Canoe fraudster John Darwin leaving Teesside Crown Court.
Canoe fraudster John Darwin leaving Teesside Crown Court.

A soap character will return to the screen in a storyline inspired by Hartlepool canoe man John Darwin.

EastEnders bosses confirmed to the Mail the return to Albert Square of Kathy Beale will echo the extraordinary real-life tale of Darwin who faked his own death off Seaton Carew in 2002 to cash in on his life insurance.

He showed up at a London police station five years later, and it transpired he and wife Anne had been living in Panama.

An EastEnders spokesman said the soap writers had researched the story in trying to come up with a plausible storyline for Kathy, played by actress Gillian Taylforth.

Her character had previously been believed to have been killed in a car crash in South Africa nine years ago.

The plot twist was revealed at a press event earlier this week.

The programme’s executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins told the press: “We always make sure that each story is rooted in reality and this is the flip side of the canoe man story.

“It’s actually happened in real life. We read up on all of our stories in a lot of detail.”

Taylforth is reported as saying: “When Dom told me the story I said, ‘Oh yes that happened with the canoe people’.”

EastEnders is not the first soap to reference the Darwin case.

He was also mentioned earlier this year in an episode of ITV soap Emmerdale as part of a storyline in which Val Pollard talked about planning to fake her own death for life insurance.

Darwin was jailed for six years for the fraud, and his ex-wife Anne was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for her part in the scam.