Mother most foul

Two-episode drama show The Moor­side re­counts a par­ent’s worst night­mare: their child go­ing miss­ing.

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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.

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