Editor's Rating

A massive triumph for Sheridan Smith, harrowing, gripping drama that delves deep into the human psych and the complexities of female friendship

10
Acting
10
Directing
9.5
Screenplay
9.7
Set

I think it’s important we have a Moorside Review from a member of the Yorkshire public. Some critics have been harsh, others have been favourable but I’ve not yet seen a review of the Karen Matthews drama from a real Yorkshire lass. I grew up in Yorkshire, and much of my family still live in Bradford, just a stone’s throw away from Dewsbury, Moorside. I’ve visited Dewsbury many times, and felt myself being dragged back there through the drama and Sheriden Smith’s incredible portrayal of a real, loyal, honest working class Yorkshire lass.

 

I remember the day Shannon Matthews went missing. The media coverage was vast but then I lived in Yorkshire at the time, the local news had to cover the story. Reading the national rags, I realised, like others, that the case didn’t seem to be gaining as much coverage as the recent Madeleine McCann disappearance. Like Janet Street Porter at the time, I put this down to Shannon’s appearance. She was obviously a cute girl but didn’t have the clean cut, blond, bright eyed beauty of Madeleine. I actually felt sorry for the parents, I believed they needed more coverage and were being victimised due to their own home situation, the council estate, the children by many fathers.

I, myself, have children by various fathers and so this struck a chord with me, it wasn’t fair, and they needed someone on their side. I was quite vocal about it.

I’ll admit I judged Karen Matthews, there was something about her I didn’t like but I scolded myself for being so snobby, and put it to the back of my mind. She reminded me of a group of wrong ‘uns I’d become embroiled with in my teens. Council estate scum, who brought the rest of the estate down with their lacklustre parenting, white lightening cider and their uncanny ability to thieve. I lost a lot of jewellery during those friendships, and it took a while not to tar them all with the same brush, much the same as Donald Trump seems to do with muslims. My excuse, i was only 14.

Shannon Matthews was found and the world seemed to reel in shock but for me, and many others, everything began to add up. It made sense. Selfishly, it also validated our judging as we watched conference after press conference and as the world turned against the parents, Moorside just wanted to forget.

 

The adaptation with Sheridan Smith is a triumph. Yes the accents are a little sketchy now and again, but they were close enough to my cousins, to allow me to become absorbed in the Dewsbury mini drama. I’ve been championing Sheridan ever since the media turned on her last year. A little frown at the awards, some exhaustion on the West end, and suddenly Sheridan wasn’t the Golden girl, it was unfair. She is human, she displayed human traits, devastated for a friend she lost to cancer, worn out from the gruelling musical stage. It was fantastic to see her back on form in the role of Julie Busby, and I’ve no doubt that the two really are still mates.

Fast paced and chaotic, the drama delved deep to restore the reputation of this council estate. it showed the strength of character of real communities we miss today. Only in times of hardship do people tend to come together to provide help, solace and friendship, to be a brick for each other.

Alongside highlighting the discrepancies in Karen Matthews behaviour, it also made the viewers envious of this group of people who stuck together. No matter what class, what upbringing, what home, what school one attends, we’d be hard pushed not to be a little envious of the deep bind between Julie Busby and her friends.

The only aspect lacking for me was extra information, I didn’t feel there was much in the drama that hadn’t already been publicised. Of course, the BBC must be sympathetic to Shannon Matthews now, and I doubt she’d want to hear tales of how her mother had so little regard.

Sheriden was stand out, and could hardly be recognised. I find her integrity incredible as it’s reflected in the roles she takes on. This isn’t a woman concerned about looking beautiful for the cameras, this is an old school actress who truly believes in her art. Her need for perfectionism was evident and went some way to explaining why she found countless stage shows so hard, when so much is invested in a single performance, it must leave her physically and emotionally drained. As a viewer, I would, like to thank Sheridan for her sacrifice, as she does this to bring us the very best in drama entertainment, and I’ve been a huge fan since 2 pints and a packet of crisps!

I will be tuning in for the second part next week, to watch Karen Matthews receive her comeuppance and a lengthy prison sentence. She’s changed her name, her hair colour, she’s even found solace in Christ, but with the new drama on the telly, she has nowhere to hide.

The next episode airs on BBC1 at 9pm Tuesday 14th February