Mother most foul
Two-episode drama show The Moorside recounts a parent’s worst nightmare: their child going missing.
The Moorside Season 1 Wednesdays (from 3 May) ITV Choice (*123) 20:00
It’s 2008 and West Yorkshire mom Karen (Gemma Whelan) is panicking in miniseries The Moorside (2017). “Please bring her back to me, bring my baby back,” she begs on the news. Karen’s nine-year-old daughter Shannon has vanished in this biographical drama retelling the event that shook the estate of Dewsbury in 2008. Charlotte Moore from production network The BBC explains, “This was an extraordinary story that rocked a community. As a nation, we only ever saw it from one perspective and we hope this drama will capture what it was like to be at the centre of that community – how they responded and lived through it.”
Karen’s not alone in her search – best pal Julie (Sheridan Smith) is at her side and co-ordinates the search party to find Shannon. Sheridan says that “it [the story] is a fascinating mixture of what I thought I knew and a whole lot more that I had no idea about”. She’s talking about the faith and trust that the people had of finding the girl alive. That faith is repaid and Shannon is rescued after she’s found stuffed in a bed in a nearby house.
But there’s a stench of foulplay in the air and Karen’s friend Natalie (Sian Brooke) question Karen’s behaviour through the ordeal. “It’s important to bring human stories to life and allow the audience to come to their own conclusions,” says Charlotte.
The show hasn’t gone down well with a lot of people, not least the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann who’ve called The Moorside “insensitive”. People in Dewsbury have also hit out, saying that “this isn’t entertainment. It’s sick and disgusting that it’s turned into a TV show. How is it fair on that girl, who now relives her trauma and the horrible things she went through?”
The real-life Julie loved the show but adds that it opened old wounds for her. “I used to visit Karen in prison. I wanted answers – why she did it – but nothing. To this day, nothing.”
From left: Natalie, Julie and Karen.