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BBC in talks for drama on hoax kidnap of Dewsbury schoolgirl Shannon Matthews

Actress Sheridan Smith rumoured to be lined up to play mum Karen Matthews

Karen Matthews
Karen Matthews

A TV drama could be made about the hoax kidnap of Dewsbury schoolgirl Shannon Matthews.

The BBC are in talks to run a TV drama about the made-up kidnap plot, which saw Shannon’s mother Karen jailed for what the judge described as a “truly despicable” plot.

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.

Speaking at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, where he appeared alongside Smith, he said: “It’s very early stages. It’s not been commissioned yet and the casting process hasn’t even begun.”

But when asked if Smith might be involved in the drama he replied: “Maybe, yes.” When asked if she might play Shannon Matthews’ mother, Pope replied: “Yes.”

The pair have previously worked together, with Pope casting Smith for a lead role in his docu-dramas about the Great Train Robbery and Cilla Black.

The drama would be made for the BBC and created by ITV Studios, where Pope is head of factual drama.

Pope also said he wanted to create a drama about TV presenter Jimmy Savile but added that he had “not quite got the way in” to writing about the prolific paedophile.

Shannon was nine when she disappeared from her home in Dewsbury Moor in February 2008, sparking a massive police investigation.

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.

Matthews and Donovan were both jailed for eight years but were released after serving half their sentence.


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