First image of Sheridan Smith as filming starts on new drama about the abduction of Shannon Matthews

First-look picture of Sheridan Smith as Julie as filming commences on The Moorside Project for BBC One.

First-look picture of Sheridan Smith as Julie as filming commences on The Moorside Project for BBC One.

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The first image of Sheridan Smith starring in a new BBC drama about the kidnapping of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews has been released as filming starts.

The Bafta winning actress is playing a part based on Julie Bushby, chairwoman of the Moorside residents and tenants association, who was prominent in the desperate search for the nine-year-old from Dewsbury Moor, who went missing after a school swimming trip in 2008.

The two-part drama will look at how Smith rallied the community to find Shannon and the impact the revelation that her 24-day disappearance was a hoax had.

Shannon was discovered at the home of Michael Donovan, less than a mile away.

Her mother and Donovan were later jailed for kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Smith said: “The story is a fascinating mixture of what I thought I knew and a whole lot more that 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 programme is being shot by the ITV Studios behind Approproate Adult, which told the story of trainee social worker Janet Leach, who was asked by police to sit in on their interviews with the serial killer Fred West.

Writer Neil McKay has promised that the drama will take people “into the heart of a story and a community that was defined more by prejudice than genuine understanding.”

The corporation says the drama will not be focussed on either Karen or Shannon Matthews and her abduction will not be portrayed on screen.

The drama also stars Siobhan Finneran, Sian Brooke and Gemma Whelan.

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