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Sheridan Smith to star in docudrama about kidnapped schoolgirl Shannon Matthews

ShowbizBy Sunday World
Sheridan Smith to star in docudrama about kidnapped schoolgirl Shannon Matthews

Sheridan Smith is set to star in a traumatic docudrama based on the fake abduction of Shannon Matthews in 2008.

The 'Cilla' star, 34, has signed up to portray the head of the tenants' association Julie Bushby, who spearheaded a search for the young school girl in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in the two-part drama 'The Moorside Project'.

She said: "The story is a fascinating mixture of what I thought I knew and a whole lot more I had no idea about. The themes of faith and trust in human nature, and the way the whole community came together really inspired me."

The new BBC One drama will focus on the group of women who rallied together to find the youngster eight years ago and the impact it had on them when they discovered the 24-day disappearance was a hoax organised by her mother.

Meanwhile, former 'Downton Abbey' star Siobhan Finneran will take on the role of family liaison officer Christine Freeman, while 'Game of Thrones' actress Gemma Whelan will play Shannon's shamed mother Karen.

Shannon, who was aged just nine years old at the time, sparked a huge manhunt in February 2008 when she disappeared from her home on the Moorside estate.

She was found 24 days later at the home of her mother's boyfriend's uncle, Michael Donovan, less than a mile away.

The youngster was later taken into care along with her six siblings, while her mother Karen was jailed for eight years for organising the kidnap plot in order to generate money.