Those of you who are set to tune into the concluding episode of The Moorside tonight at 9PM on BBC1, will already know that it’s based on a harrowing real-life event: the disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews from the Moorside Estate in Dewsbury in the UK in 2009.
So soon after Madeleine McCann’s disappearance dominated the news, Shannon captivated the nation; her optimistic smile on every poster, every wall. Emotional public appeals from her mother Karen Matthews detailed her daughter’s sudden abduction, and when no information surfaced, it was the local community, led by Julie Bushby, who stood by the anguished mother and made extraordinary efforts on their own to find Shannon. And so many were with them; taken by the drive and sheer determined passion to find her.
But events turned dark when the unthinkable was revealed: less than thirty days later, Shannon was found alive, but it was her own mother who had planned her ‘abduction.’ She had taken her child, lied to her, drugged her and forced her to hide under a bed. How could an innocent nine-year-old have ever comprehended she was used as a pawn in her family’s relentless pursuit of greed – Karen had planned to take the reward money given to find her daughter – it was unfathomable. And yet it had happened.
Many are in two minds about the dramatising of the events for ‘entertainment’ purposes – Shannon’s life is not a fiction; this horrific event happened to her. She lost her mother, her home and her identity – she is eighteen now but lived in the care of the local authority under a new name ever since it happened – but perhaps this is why the BBC felt the need to retell her story from the perspective of those – the community – who genuinely wanted to help her. This story is not centred on Shannon – you only see her in the distance in the programme – but the incredible women who put their lives on hold and devoted their every effort to ensuring she was found.
And even with the sadness and tragedy that occurred, the Moorside community’s story of hope; of the ordinary people who banded together for the safe return of an innocent nine-year-old girl is worth watching.
See the concluding part of The Moorside tonight at 9PM on BBC1