The Man Who Took Shannon Matthews


With exclusive access to family members, neighbours and professionals who knew Michael Donovan, and using drama reconstruction, this is the untold story of the man who abducted nine year old. Shannon Matthews in 2008 and kept her in his flat for 24 days before she was found in a dramatic rescue by the police.

It was a controversial kidnapping case that captivated a nation, set in one of most deprived communities in Britain. No-one really knows anything about Shannon’s abductor. What went on inside his flat has been shrouded in mystery. This documentary tries to get some answers. 

Using drama, archive and excusive testimony, the documentary examines the life of Michael Donovan, from his childhood, to becoming a teenager, to now. It reveals he was a father of two daughters, who were taken into care. 

Why did Donovan take Shannon? Was he was coerced into agreeing to this hoax kidnap by Shannon’s mother Karen Matthews? Why on earth would a single man decide to keep a nine year girl at his flat while everyone was looking for her and worrying that she had come to harm, or was even dead?

Those close to Donovan share exclusive insights into why they think he did it, discussing his health issues and whether they could have affected his decision- making. Others believe he was very much in on the plans to get his hands on the reward money of £50, 000. One family member reveals for the very first time a brand new reason why she thinks Donovan agreed to take her. The documentary contains other first-time revelations from family members.

Production Info

Duration: 6 x 60

Year of Production: 2021

Broadcaster: Channel 4