‘Truthful’ and ‘unvarnished’ TV drama about Shannon Matthew’s disappearance to go ahead

Shannon Matthews
Shannon Matthews

The BBC are to go ahead with a “truthful, unvarnished” two-part drama about the disappearance of Shannon Matthews.

The Moorside Project has been revealed as the working title for a show based on the response of women in the Dewsbury community rather than the abduction itself.

Writer Neil McKay, who also penned the award-winning Appropriate Adult, said: “This drama tells a story of people pulling together for the sake of a child.

“In a world where all too often our estates are written off, this drama challenges us to think again about this.

“We hope the drama will have something to say not only about this community, caught up in the events unfolding on their doorstep, but about our wider society too.”

Schoolgirl Shannon disappeared while walking home from school in February 2008.

It triggered a major police investigation which cost more than £3m and threw Dewsbury Moor’s Moorside estate into the national spotlight.

The search ended after 24 days when Shannon was found in the Batley Carr home of Michael Donovan, a relative of her mother’s then partner.

Mum Karen Matthews and her co-accused Michael Donovan were found guilty at trial and jailed for kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

ITV Studios begins producing the drama for BBC One later this year – it has not yet been cast.

Exectuve producer Jeff Pope said: “At the time, the country held its breath when Shannon went missing. When she was found, the people of Moorside led the celebrations.

“The committed and passionate search mounted by local people had seemed to sweep away all the clichés and prejudices about estates like Moorside.

“But when the truth about what had happened was revealed, the sense of betrayal and bitter recriminations that followed threatened to submerge the estate. This truthful, unvarnished drama will take us inside the eye of the storm.”

BBC One controller Charlotte Moore added: “As a nation, we only ever saw it from one perspective and I hope this drama will capture what it was like to be at the centre of that community – how they responded and lived through it.”