Leeds & West Yorkshire

Sheridan Smith to star in Shannon Matthew's TV drama

Sheridan Smith Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The abduction of Shannon is not to be portrayed in the film starring Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith is to star in a TV drama about the disappearance of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews.

Shannon was nine years old when she disappeared in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in February 2008.

She was found 24 days later under a bed at Michael Donovan's nearby home after a police operation costing £3.2m.

Donovan and Shannon's mother Karen Matthews were later jailed for eight years for kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Smith will star as Julie, a member of a Dewsbury residents and tenants association supporting the search to find Shannon.

"The themes of faith and trust in human nature, and the way the whole community came together, really inspired me," said Smith.

The programme plans to focus on the spirit and determination of a group of women who brought the community together to try to find Shannon, according to the BBC.

'Drugged, subdued and hidden'

The abduction of Shannon is not to be portrayed in the film and Karen Matthews is not the central character.

She disappeared after a swimming trip with her school on 19 February 2008.

Twenty-four days later she was found alive under a bed in Batley Carr, less than a mile from her home.

This is how events unfolded

The trial at Leeds Crown Court heard her mother and Donovan kept Shannon "drugged, subdued and hidden from the public" so they could claim £50,000 in reward money.

Neil McKay, the writer, said: "This drama tells a story of people pulling together for the sake of a child".

Filming is due to start in spring by ITV Studios for BBC One.

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