My Mum Tracy Beaker: Dani Harmer Admits She’s Never Read Jacqueline Wilson Book That Inspired The Series
But while fans of the Jacqueline Wilson character are counting down the days until her return, the actress has a startling confession to make: she has yet to read The Story of Tracy Beaker, the book the series was based on.
"I still have not read the book to this day; I don't know if that helped me get the part because I was just using my own initiative," Dani tells Tyla.
"I am a huge Jacqueline Wilson fan though; I've read loads of Jacqueline Wilson books including Double act and Cliff hanger but have not yet read Tracy Beaker. I have a signed copy of the book in my cupboard, and I will read it some day!"
Things are are little different for Tracy this time round - she's a mum. The new instalment, My Mum Tracy Beaker, follows Tracy and her 10-year-old daughter Jess (Emma Maggie Davies), as they try to scrape by financially but with a close and loving bond that Tracy missed out on with her own mum.
The three-episode adaption is based on Jacqueline Wilson's book of the same name. The series also explores how their lives change drastically with the arrival of Tracy's rich new boyfriend, Sean Godfrey (Jordan Duvigneau).
Sean had a crush on Tracy when they were young, when he was simply known as 'Football'. Now, he is a recently retired footballer who owns a chain of gyms and he wants to whisk Tracy and Jess away to a life of palatial mansions and fancy cars. But in true Tracy Beaker style, everything starts to go pear-shaped. "Tracy is out there dating and we can all relate to that. It's heartwarming, it's dramatic and it's funny," says Dani.
"She's at a completely different stage in her life, being a parent completely changes her. I was interested to see what she's like as a parent. It felt like the natural next step."
The Wilson books have inspired several sequels and adaptations, creating a Tracy Beaker cinematic universe of sorts. The Story of Tracy Beaker premiered on CBBC in January 2002 and ran for five seasons, concluding in December 2005.
Tracy Beaker Returns aired three seasons between 2010 and 2012. A spin-off series from Tracy Beaker Returns called The Dumping Ground has aired on CBBC since January 2013.
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"We are a bit like Marvel, aren't we," jokes Dani, before discussing her guest appearances on the spin-offs. "Getting back into character isn't too hard because she's almost like a part of me now, even though we're so, so different. I'm nothing like her in real life I promise. She's a lot bossier than I am."
There will be some familiar faces returning from Tracy's past, including her childhood frenemy Justine Littlewood (Montanna Thompson) who is now a successful businesswoman. "There's something about seeing someone from your childhood that makes you feel 10 years old again. Not much has changed between those two."
Tracy's foster mum Cam (Lisa Coleman) and her biological mum Carly played by Bridgerton star Ruth Gemmell are also set to appear. Now Tracy Beaker and Daphne Bridergton share the same TV mum. "I'm fuming she was mine first! Hands off! She's my TV mum!"
Just like her iconic character, Dani's also a mum - she welcomed her daughter Avarie in 2016. "After having a child and seeing firsthand how much it changes your life, it's nice to bring my own experiences to the table," Dani says.
"Your life completely changes when you have a child and you have to completely lose your selfishness and everything you do is for another human being and that's the journey that Tracy goes on now, everything she does is for her daughter."
From Raven Baxter in Raven's Home, to Punky Brewster and the Clarissa Explains it All reboot starring Melissa Joan Hart, Tracy Beaker is one of several TV heroines from our childhood returning as a mum. "I loved That's So Raven growing up and part of me thinks 'I wonder what she's up to'. If you're invested in a character from a young age, you want to see if their life went in the direction you thought it would or whether they did something different. I hope everyone is happy with Tracy's direction and her journey."
One person who may be particularly excited about Tracy Beaker's return is Stormzy, who sampled the show's theme song for his track "Superheroes" in 2019. Dani didn't know who Stormzy was until her phone blew up with messages asking her if she had heard it. "I'm an old soul, I listen to Radio 4 in the car, and I was so confused - I thought he was a band. But when I listened to it I was like 'thank you Stormzy for giving me some street cred. I think I am now cool.'"
My Mum Tracy Beaker premieres on CBBC and BBC iPlayer on 12th February.
Featured Image Credit: BBC
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