The BBC will resume production on Shannan Matthews abduction hoax drama The Moorside Project (working title) later this year, after filming was halted last year to address ‘important production and editorial matters’ which have now been resolved.
Official press release:
BBC One has commissioned a two-part drama serial about the public response to the disappearance of Yorkshire schoolgirl Shannon Matthews which looks at the story from the point of view of the community. Made by ITV Studios and the same award-winning team behind the acclaimed Appropriate Adult.
The Moorside Project (working title) will reveal how a group of ordinary women brought the community together as one to try to find a child who had disappeared in their midst. The focus of the drama is on the spirit and determination of the women who led the local campaign to find Shannon, and the impact on them when the truth was revealed that her disappearance was a sham and her mother knew where she was.
So what really happened to the people of Moorside as the story unfolded? How did the community come together? How did they cope with the feeling of betrayal, and with the fierce criticism of their home that followed in the press?
The Moorside Project gives a fresh perspective on a front page news story we all remember, focusing not on the crime itself but on the ordinary people caught up in events, going beneath the headlines to understand the lasting impact on the community that lived through it.
Writer, Neil McKay, says: “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.”
Jeff Pope, Executive Producer, ITV Studios says: “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.”
Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One, says: “Drama has the ability to tackle sensitive subjects from different perspectives and consider the impact of a crime rather than the crime itself. This was an extraordinary story of our time that rocked a community and thrust it under the media spotlight. 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. On BBC One it’s important to bring human stories to life and allow the audience to come to their own conclusions.”
Written by Neil McKay, the executive producers are Jeff Pope, ITV Studios Head of Factual Drama (Appropriate Adult, Mrs Biggs, Mo) and Neil McKay (Appropriate Adult, Mo, See No Evil).
Commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Controller BBC One and Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama.
Filming will start later this year. Casting has not yet begun.