Entertainment: ITV's The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe set for ratings battle as it takes on hit BBC dramas

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The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe will launch on Easter Sunday at exactly the same time an already established drama airs, forcing viewers to choose which one to prioritise and which one to relegate to catch up. And it's second episode will clash with another much loved show just a day later.

Cast your minds back 20 years ago and the story of 'missing' canoe man John Darwin rocked a whole community and made national headlines, after he was reported to have gone missing after heading into the sea in his kayak, close to his Seaton Carew home. While appeals were launched to find him and his sons were left distraught by his disappearance, the reality was that his absence wasn't due to a tragic turn of events, but the result of a wicked con, conjured up by John and wife Anne, despite her always maintaining she was forced to go along with it.

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The scam saw John hiding right next door to the family home for years, before he and Anne tried to start a new life in Panama, only to be found out by a picture of them taken in a real estate office over there, after John walked into a London police station to declare himself as a missing person. The scandal caused shock waves across the country, with John and Anne's sons Mark and Anthony absolutely furious and totally crushed by how they'd been deceived by their own parents.

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John and Anne both served years in prison for committing fraud and are now being played by acclaimed actors Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan for ITV' s The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe, which will start on Sunday, April 17 at 9pm. However, while there have been plenty of adverts for the real life drama and anticipation is high, it will have to see off competition from Gentleman Jack to win the Easter ratings battle.

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The massively popular Suranne Jones drama returned for a second series last Sunday and, having pulled in a massive audience for its comeback, is sure to do the same this weekend. The schedule clash is now leaving viewers to pick a side.

John Darwin canoe 'death' fraud to become major ITV drama © PA John Darwin canoe 'death' fraud to become major ITV drama

The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe will air over four consecutive nights, with its second episode going head-to-head with The Split, which has been emotionally charged viewing since its return a few weeks ago. Reacting to the clash, one Twitter user posted: "The biggest clash for The Thief, The Wife, and His Canoe will be #GentlemanJack from and #TheSplit over on @BBCOne in their uninterrupted 9pm slot on Easter Sunday/Monday. Given no clash here for dramas on Tuesday & Wednesday, thank goodness."

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