The concluding part of The Moorside was television drama at its best, I can’t speak highly enough about the way in which the entire ensemble have worked together to create such a hard-hitting piece.
As Karen Matthews (Gemma Whelan) is the subject of gossip and rumours on the estate and Craig (Tom Hanson) is arrested for child pornography found on his computer, it seems that Karen’s only friend is Julie (Sheridan Smith). Natalie (Sian Brooke) has continued to offer help to look after Karen’s other kids, but remains suspicious of her next door neighbour. The revelation from Matthews’ own mouth is played out in DCI Freeman’s (Siobhan Finneran) car and it’s startling, horrifying and heart-wrenching. Julie and Natalie are both present, pushing the matter and as their friend breaks down she is astonishingly childlike when she asks Julie if she’s still her friend. The scene is an acting master-class, with all four of the actresses putting in a performance to be proud of.
Once the truth is out, the estate turns their back on Julie for having led the campaign and Karen back-tracks on her admission. However, in court, despite a previous heart to heart with her friend which led me to believe that Karen had lost Julie as a friend, it seems that she remained the only person on the wretched mother’s side. Although I see that Julie, having been abused herself, can empathise with the life that Karen has had, and they are both examples of ‘you are what’s happened to you’, I would love to ask her why she stuck by the convict.
Meaty drama, this certainly was, and a showcase for a number of superb actors who, I would wager were well out of their comfort zone. However, was it necessary to recreate the story? I’m not so sure. The general thread and theme seemed to revolve around Julie, though, so it felt as though that was the story that was being explored.
I have to hand it to Sheridan Smith, television is definitely her metier and she has the ability to take on a challenge, that much is clear.