Friday, December 11, 2009

Q&A with Dani Harmer

Tracy Beaker is back in a feature-length episode on Friday 8th January with the series Tracy Beaker Returns continuing on Friday's at 5:30pm on the CBBC channel.

Dani Harmer was just 12 years old when she first played Tracy Beaker. Since then she has appeared in a number of high-profile television programmes including My Family, Trial And Retribution, the BBC One comedy After You've Gone and, of course, CBBC's Dani's House, which also returns to TV screens this month.

Here, Dani explains what it's like to return to the role that made her a household name.

It's been five years since Tracy was last on our screens – what's changed?
Well, Tracy's older for a start so is now one of the grown ups. Viewers will see plenty of new characters and a couple of old ones like Cam and Mike.

What does it feel like to be back playing Tracy Beaker?
I was a bit apprehensive at first as it's been five years since I last played her. As soon as I got into character, though, it was like riding a bike!

Tracy is now one of the grown-ups at the Dumping Ground – does this mean viewers will see a more sensible and responsible Tracy Beaker?

Definitely. There's no better "grown up" in the Dumping Ground than Tracy, who can relate to the kids. She's been there and obviously really feels for what they're going through. Tracy's still got that feisty side, though!

Does it feel strange to be back on the Dumping Ground set playing one of the grown ups?
It does. To work with Lisa Coleman [who plays Cam] and Connor Byrne [who plays Mike] as an adult actress, as opposed to a child actress, was quite weird. But I love working with them both and I don't have to have tutoring or a chaperone!

Tracy has had a change of image and her trademark curls are gone. Did you have a say in her new look?
Yes. I've been straightening my hair for various other acting roles and I think it's important for the viewers to see that Tracy has grown up, so gone are the curls, stripy t-shirts and dungarees!

You really seem to be one of the gang with the young actors playing the new dumping ground kids. Did you get on well with them?
Absolutely. They're all a lovely, talented bunch of kids – we're talking A List Hollywood! I love them all and really hope to be able to work with them again in the future.

You were very young yourself when you started acting – have any of the younger cast asked you for advice?
Yes, and my advice is, if you want it bad enough, stay focused and be prepared for rejections as there'll be plenty of them - but keep at it. And always be courteous and professional to those you work with.

You are a girl of many talents - acting, comedy and now singing – which one is your favourite?
That's a difficult one, but probably acting. Although I absolutely adore singing, acting is something I've always wanted to do from a very young age. Having said that, if I get the chance to do comedy and singing again I'd never turn it down.

You are in the middle of filming the new series of Dani's House - are you enjoying yourself?
It's brilliant. I get to visit Edinburgh, which is great, and the cast and crew are wonderful. It's also such good fun and I laugh every day. Oh, and I get to dress up as an alien again!

As well as fitting in a new series of Tracy Beaker Returns and Dani's House this year, you have launched your singing career. How do you fit in all in?
It's been difficult with all the acting work I've had, but I'm hoping for an album release early next year, depending on work commitments, so watch this space.

And, the most important question of all, what do you want for Christmas?
I think actually having time off for Christmas, which will be the first time in so many years, is a present in itself. I'm looking forward to a traditional Christmas with my family.

More details on the new young cast here and here.

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