Lack of racial diversity in BBC’s The Moorside, say critics

Lack of racial diversity in BBC’s The Moorside, say critics

LOCAL councillors have hit out at the lack of racial diversity shown in the Shannon Matthews kidnap drama, The Moorside. 

The second part of the BBC drama, which starred BAFTA-winner Sheridan Smith, aired on Tuesday night, portraying the investigation which led to Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan both being sentenced to eight years in prison.

Large numbers of the district’s Asian population were involved in different ways in the 24-day search for nine-year-old Shannon.

However, The Moorside’s cast was made up almost entirely of white actors.

Dewsbury West councillor Mumtaz Hussain, who was involved in the search in 2008, thought there should have been more Asian actors in the two-part programme.

“The Asian community played a big part and a lot of Asian people were working in this group,” he said.

“But when they showed the drama there were hardly any Asian people in it. They could have made it more diverse.

“At the end of the day, with the information the BBC have, they never contacted me.”

Coun Hussain was pictured in a number of well-publicised images of the search, including the iconic banner walk through Dewsbury. Former Dewsbury West councillors Karam Hussain and Naz Hussain were also at the front of the march.

Coun Hussain added: “When we were holding the banner and walking with the banner, they must have had all this footage, they must have known.”

Fellow Dewsbury West councillor Darren O’Donovan, who lived nearby and was present for the events of February and March, 2008, was also critical.

“When I witnessed what was going on there, there were a number of different communities involved in that search for Shannon and that didn’t play out in the drama I saw,” he said.

“When I remember those few weeks there were more people from that south-east Asian background involved in that search than what was portrayed.

“I’ve not spoken to any of the producers of the programme to understand why they’ve represented it that way. They said they did their research but that was a notable omission.

“I’ve spoken to people who think it was a pretty fair reflection of the events, and others who don’t think it was accurate.”

He also said he did not think it was necessary for the show to be made in the first place.

“I think it’s brought the story back unnecessarily and, without mentioning a name, I hope certain people didn’t watch it,” he said.

“I also hope it will be forgotten about tomorrow. Dewsbury stands for a lot more than what happened for one month in Dewsbury Moor.

“I hope we can go back to being a town known for other more positive reasons.”



Shaun Gardner: I genuinely think the truth of the whole sad charade came out in the meeting in the car. The whole so-called plot to kidnap the poor girl and then claim the reward is complete nonsense. Learning disabilities played a huge part in this case. Neither Matthews nor Donovan had the intelligence to pull off such a scam. They had no idea how to handle the enormous media interest. Let’s just hope that the little girl in all this goes on to live a happy and stable life.

Louise Thewlis: I found it quite emotional viewing; for Julie to care so much and go against the community when the truth came out, what a strong lady she is! A sad story all the same for Shannon and her siblings.

Susan Sayles Wilkinson: For whatever reason she did it, it still cost at least £3.5m of taxpayers’ money. Let’s hope the children are now in a happy family environment. All in all, it answered a lot of questions. Great acting from all involved.

Adelle Woodcock: If it was the truth about her leaving Craig and it escalating etc, why was Shannon found drugged and bound?

Jayne Heaton: Exploitation... that’s what I think of it! Continual unnecessary upset for poor Shannon! Sick world.

Linda Harrison: It’s been interesting viewing and answered a lot of questions.

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