THE HOAX kidnap of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews could be made into a new television drama but an MP has questioned whether the programme should be made.
Writer Jeff Pope, who was behind hit blockbuster Philomena, suggested award-winning actress Sheridan Smith is set to play the role of Shannon’s mother Karen.
Shannon was nine when she disappeared from her home in Dewsbury in February 2008.
But she was discovered 24 days later at the home of her stepfather’s uncle, Michael Donovan, less than a mile away, where she had been imprisoned as part of a plan he and Matthews hatched to claim a £50,000 reward offered by a national newspaper. The youngster had been drugged and forced to adhere to strict rules while held captive. Matthews and Donovan were both jailed for eight years but were released after serving half their sentence.
Pope said the project would be “extremely complex”. Speaking at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, where he appeared alongside Smith, he told the newspaper: “It’s very early stages; it’s not been commissioned yet and the casting process hasn’t even begun.” It would be made for the BBC and created by ITV Studios.
When asked if Smith might be involved he replied: “Maybe, yes.” When asked if she might play Shannon Matthews’ mother, Pope replied: “Yes.” The pair have previously worked together in docu-dramas about the Great Train Robbery and Cilla Black.
However Simon Reevell, the Conservative MP for Dewsbury, said: “I think it is right to ask whether the awful suffering of a child should be turned into ... entertainment and the BBC should think about whether this is the sort of programme they should want to commission.” He said if the programme was accurate it should show the town in a good light as the community had united to try to find Shannon.
Sheridan Smith is the subject of The Big Interview in Saturday’s magazine.