On 19 February 2008, nine year-old Shannon Matthews went missing from the Moorside Estate in Dewsbury, and a hunt ensued that gripped the nation.

The frantic community search led by a local woman, Julie Bushby, is dramatised in a new BBC two-parter starring Sheridan Smith.

Despite the efforts of the police and the community, no trace of Shannon could be found and within a few hours the police investigation took on the scale of a murder enquiry.

Emotional public appeals from her mother Karen Matthews amounted to nothing, and gradually people began to suspect that she might have been involved in the abduction.

Just as all hope was close to fading, Shannon was found alive. The wild celebrations of Julie and the community were rapidly cut short when they learned that Shannon was being held by a man known to Karen.

Sheridan Smith as Julie Bushby


Julie is a mother on the estate who takes it upon herself to lead the community search for Shannon. She is bolshy and foul-mouthed but has a very good heart.

Where do I recognise Sheridan Smith from?

The actress is celebrated for her often extreme transformations into the different roles she plays. She won a Bafta for her portrayal of Mrs Biggs in 2012, and is also known for Cilla, The C Word, Gavin & Stacey and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

Gemma Whelan as Karen Matthews


Karen is Shannon’s mother who conspired with the uncle of her boyfriend to kidnap Shannon in an apparent effort to win reward money. She is childlike and out of her depth in a mess of her own making.

Where do I recognise Gemma Whelan from?

You may not make the connection straight away because she looks so different, but Whelan plays Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones. She also recently appeared in Morgana Robinson's The Agency as Kat Cassidy.