Shannon TV drama to focus on betrayal of a community

A TV drama about the kidnap of Dewsbury youngster Shannon Matthews is to go ahead.

The BBC confirmed on Tuesday it is to film a two-part fact-based programme about the 2008 controversy.

It will centre on the lives of those who led the search for the then nine-year-old girl.

Called the Moorside Project and due to be screened on BBC1, the show is to be filmed later this year.

The focus is not on disgraced mum Karen Matthews, but those who came to her aid and were hoodwinked.

A BBC spokesman said it would give a “fresh perspective on a front-page news story we all remember”.

He added the drama would go “beneath the headlines to understand the lasting impact on the community that lived through it”.

Shannon was found hidden under a bed in a Batley Carr flat after a 24-day ordeal.

Karen Matthews, who had made several tearful TV appeals for Shannon’s return, staged her daughter’s disappearance.

She was held in a bid to collect £50,000 in reward money offered by a national newspaper.

Karen Matthews, released on licence in 2012, and accomplice Michael Donovan were jailed for eight years.

Writer Neil McKay 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.”

Production company ITV Studios said the show would be a “truthful” and “unvarnished” account of a community that was betrayed.

BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore defended the decision to rake over old ground.

She said: “This was an extraordinary story of our time that rocked a community and thrust it under the media spotlight.

“I hope this drama will capture what it was like to be at the centre of that community and how they responded and lived through it.”

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