There has been a lot of big crime drama news these past few days, and something else has come to light this afternoon. We’ve known for a while that the BBC has been developing a ‘Shannon Matthews’ drama, made by ITV Studios, although the corporation is very keen to point out that the two-parter is NOT focused on Shannon or her mother, Karen, and neither the then nine-year-old’s abduction nor her experience in captivity. No, this drama is about the search for Shannon and portrays an often forgotten part of the story: a community’s mobilisation in the face of catastrophe. It’ll star the always-excellent Sheridan Smith (who really excels at playing real-life characters, it seems), and the BBC has released the show’s first image today.
The Moorside Project will reveal how a group of women brought their community together in their attempt to find a child who disappeared in their midst. The focus of the drama is on the spirit and determination of the women at the forefront of the campaign and the impact on them when the truth about Shannon’s disappearance was finally revealed.
Smith plays the role of Julie, chair of the Moorside residents and tenants association and prominent in the desperate search to find Shannon. She will be joined by Sian Brooke as friend and neighbour Natalie, Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley) who will be playing Christine Freeman, and Gemma Whelan as Karen Matthews. This drama will give a fresh perspective on a front page story we all remember, focusing not on the crime itself but on the community that lived through it.
And here Smith is, as Julie.
Sheridan says: “The story is a fascinating mixture of what I thought I knew and a whole lot more that I had no idea about. The themes of faith and trust in human nature, and the way the whole community came together really inspired me.”