sheridan smith shannon matthews drama the moorside

Sheridan Smith praised for leading role in Shannon Matthews' drama, The Moorside

Gemma Strong

Sheridan Smith has been lauded for her starring role in BBC drama, The Moorside. The 35-year-old actress made a gripping return to TV on Tuesday evening for the start of the two-part series, based on the notorious kidnapping of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews. Viewers took to social media to praise Sheridan for her portrayal of neighbour Julie Bushby, who helped organise marches and searches to find Shannon, and also stood by mother Karen Matthews during her trial.

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Fans of Sheridan's performance included I'm A Celebrity winner Scarlett Moffatt, who wrote on Twitter: "I just love @Sheridansmith1 what a talented beautiful lady." Another supporter wrote: "@Sheridansmith1 you really are one of the best actors this country has ever seen, can't wait for next Tuesday super talented last." A third added: "I have to say @Sheridansmith1 is by far the best actress on our screen at the moment… fantastic performance tonight!"

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Sheridan Smith as Julie Bushby in new BBC drama The Moorside

While the new drama was incredibly well-received, some did question Sheridan's "distracting" attempt at a West Yorkshire accent. "#TheMoorside is it just me or is Sheridan Smith's accent really distracting for everyone?" one viewer asked. Another said: "Omg Sheridan Smith I love you but your accent is already ruining #TheMoorside."

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Shannon Matthews was just nine-years-old when she disappeared from The Moorside Estate in Dewsbury in 2008. Her abduction gripped the local community and the whole nation, making headlines on every newspaper at the time. Concern then turned to shock and anger as it was revealed that Shannon's own mother Karen had conspired with her boyfriend’s uncle to kidnap Shannon in an attempt to claim the reward money.

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The Moorside focuses on the search for Shannon Matthews following her abduction in 2008

In The Moorside, the focus is not the abduction, but the tireless hunt for Shannon, led by Julie Bushby. Desperate to see the good in others, she refuses to acknowledge that Karen Matthews (played by Gemma Whelan) is acting strangely following her daughter's disappearance. Karen's friend Natalie (Sherlock star Sian Brooke), meanwhile, starts to becoming increasingly suspicious of Karen.

The Moorside will conclude on Tuesday at 9pm on BBC1.

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