At the beginning of the series, Julie Bushby (Sheridan Smith) and her friends partake in a parenting class. Karen Matthews (Gemma Whelan) admits she would use Julie’s aggressive techniques to discipline her child. After the session ends, Karen reveals she was awarded her certificate and is now an official mother. We also learn that Karen has several kids with different fathers. They meet up with their friend Natalie (Sian Brooke) seconds later. Karen and Natalie stroll off together, while Julie heads home. During the night, Karen places a phone call to emergency services about her missing daughter. In the morning, Peter (William Hunt) remains home, while his sister Tiffany leaves for school.
Next, Julie receives a visit from a neighbor. She learns about that the police have been looking for a local girl all night. It is revealed that 9-year-old Shannon Matthews has gone missing. Julie gets dressed and rushes over to Karen’s place. When she arrives, she finds Natalie comforting Karen. Karen tells the others about the events leading up to the disappearance. She insists the girl never returned home from school. Julie quickly takes it upon herself to begin hunting for the missing girl. Outside, the police continue searching the neighborhood. Julie heads to the Moorside Community Centre, which has been closed. Debbie (Erin Shanagher) arrives moments later and opens the centre.
The press begins to gather around Karen’s house. DC Freeman (Siobhan Finneran) and DC Grummitt (Steve Oram) also arrive at this time. Freeman makes it clear they will be the family’s liaison officers. They attempt to clear the room, but the family members refuse to leave. Karen explains that her family wants her to go outside and speak to the press. She also relates herself to Madeline McCann’s parents. Freeman tries to convince the woman that it is best to avoid speaking with the police. Grummitt searches Shannon’s room. He finds a hidden message, which reveals the girl wanted to live with her father. Back at the community center, Debbie tells Julie that 300 quid has been donated so the center can remain open temporarily. Freeman asks Karen about her relationship with her daughter, while the community members begin searching the area.
Outside, the police watch as Julie hands out maps to the searchers. That night, a missing poster is placed outside of the community centre. Steve Kinchin (Dean Andrews) arrives and speaks with Julie. Steve tells Julie that the homicide team has gotten involved. They spot Shannon’s real dad, who has been searching the area all day. Seconds later, Julie is brought inside where she watches Karen on the television. Karen doesn’t do herself any favors. Natalie and Julie rush over to Karen’s place. She apologizes to Natalie and pleads with her not to be angry. Freeman enters and reiterates what she said earlier about speaking with the police. Julie interjects herself into the situation and announces she has the team searching for Shannon. Julie also remains adamant that the girl is still live. Freeman speaks with her privately and tries to convince her not to get her hopes up.
Julie sleeps at the community center. She speaks with Petra (Faye McKeever). Julie insists they need to remain positive. Julie finally returns home. She receives a call from the media requesting to chat and leaves seconds later. During the interview, the police arrives and encourages Julie to shut down her search. Back at home, Freeman speaks with Karen about her children. Karen is caught in a lie about the number of children she has and her baby daddies. Freeman’s phone goes off. Karen stands up and dances to the ringtone. Freeman and her partner seem disturbed by the woman’s behavior. Natalie is forced to bring Karen back to reality. Natalie is also forced to explain things to the detectives. She simply suggests Karen is just immature. Julie and her team hand out flyers. Then, we jump forward. Shannon has now been missing for 7 days. Julie returns home and is ridicules by Peter, who complains she is never home anymore.
Julie listens to a news report about Shannon. Now, the police suspect she was abducted. Kinchie enters. Julie leaves Peter in his care. Julie discovers that Karen and her family have moved into Natalie’s house for the time being. A surveillance image of Shannon is shown on the television. Karen makes a comment about the girl become really famous now. Natalie quickly ridicules her friend’s statement. Julie reveals she wants to have a march for Shannon. We jump forward to the search. Karen agrees to join in. However, Natalie is ridiculed by her family when she refuses to do so. A lady from the local church agrees to join in and offers her assistance. However, Julie insists the locals aren’t bible bashers. The march begins moments later.
During the march, Natalie’s daughter mentions that Karen looks awfully happy. Balloons with messages inside are launched towards the sky. Next, we jump forward again. It has now been 13 days since Shannon went missing. Freeman puts Karen in front of the media. Karen brings alone the girl’s favorite teddy bear. Karen tells the media she has no idea who has her daughter. Nonetheless, she insists someone out there does. Julie forces her children to join her. Karen becomes enraged at Natalie, because she decides to remain home and watch the children. A candlelight vigil is held for Shannon. The locals sing religious songs. Julie speaks with the church lady and admits she doesn’t have a lot of faith in God. Later, Julie learns that a hit piece is scheduled to be released in the paper. Karen admits it isn’t going to be nice to her or Craig.
Karen tells Julie that her boyfriend is threatening to overdose. Julie agrees to sort it out. She rushes over and confronts Craig. She gives the boy a piece of her mind, before noticing he has taken something harmless. The next day, the police begins searching the houses of the locals. At the station, Grummitt tells Freeman about Craig’s uncle, who has not been mentioned before. The man, Paul Drake, was once arrested in the past for kidnapping a girl. Julie receives a message warning her that Shannon has been found. She calls Karen, who knows nothing. Julie learns that Shannon has been found alive. The locals cheer, while Karen is taken in to identify the girl. Karen seems unemotional and isn’t allowed to speak with her daughter. That night, Julie brags to the media, before the locals celebrate with fireworks.
Julie speaks with Natalie, who refuses to celebrate just yet. She admits she would rather wait, until they know the full story. She tells Julie exactly where Shannon was found. Julie seems perplexed by the revelation.
The Moorside Review
The Moorside is good. Things carried on at a good pace and the acting was great. However, I couldn’t bring myself to like Julie. She seems so obnoxious and overly concerned with her own stardom. That made the show difficult to watch. At times, I was hoping someone would punch her in the noggin. Thankfully, Natalie helped offset the stupidity.
The Natalie character seemed like the only one with half a brain. Since I am unfamiliar with the case, I am unable to say how much is true and how much is fabricated. Nonetheless, the first episode was interested and the second should be even better. A 7 out of 10 is deserved.