Tracy Beaker versus the Daleks

Travelling in the Tardis, Phillip Schofield and saying goodbye to Tracy Beaker; entertainments writer WAYNE SAVAGE heads down the yellow brick road to chat with Wizard of Oz star Dani Harmer.

ANY Daleks reading this better watch out; Tracy Beaker is coming after you.

“I think I should be Doctor Who’s new assistant that’s what I’ve got my eye set on,” says the star of the hit CBBC series Dani Harmer. “Come on BBC, I’ve worked for you for ten years – give me the job.”

Promising to be the timelord’s feistiest companion yet, she dismisses the idea she’s too well known as Beaker to play the role. She’s got a point, Billie Piper and Catherine Tate travelled in the Tardis, why can’t she?

“It’s the whole point, we’re actors, we play different characters, that’s what happens,” she adds.

Dani’s acting career began when she was six with a part in the Pete Townshend rock musical Tommy but the 22-year-old is best known for her role in the number 1 rated CBBC series Tracy Beaker. It’s been quite a year for Dani, she’s just finished filming her last ever series of Beaker after ten years in the role as well as the fifth and final series of her sitcom Dani’s House. Emotional times

“Yeah, it’s difficult to leave the character behind because I love it but it feels like the right time; I can’t keep playing Tracy Beaker till I’m 50 as much as I’d love to.

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“So many people have grown up with it, I’ve grown up with it, but I’m looking forward to doing new things.”

Does it feel like ten years?

“Definitely,” she laughs. “It probably feels like I’ve been doing it longer actually.”

She was equally sad to call it a day on Dani’s House which she calls her baby, having helped create and getting involved in every aspect of the show. Good news though fans, there could be a follow on which may take Dani to Australia so stay tuned.

Top of her to do list first is a lot more adult drama, having already appeared in programmes like Trial and Retribution and The 10th Kingdom as well as several sitcoms to name a few - but never Casualty, despite what people say.

“Everyone always asks me that,” she says. “I think people just assume every actor’s been in that and The Bill so they just put it on the CV anyway.”

It’s not the weirdest thing she’s read about herself, “Apparently I did Joseph with Phillip Schofield. That’s new to me, I’ve never met the man before in my life.”

She was in Harry Potter and the Philsopher’s Stone.

“It’s ridiculous; the background artist was ill and I could fit in her costume. I think I might’ve been doing Trial and Retribution at the time, had a day off so I thought ‘I’ll go along and see what’s going on’. I found myself on Gryffindor table in the Sorting Hat scene and that’s about it really,” she laughs.

A lover of theatre, Dani has starred in numerous pantomimes over the years and is enjoying reprising the role of Dorothy in Enchanted Entertainment’s The Wizard of Oz at the Ipswich Regent from December 17-23.

It’s the third time she’s played the Kansas farm-girl swept up by a tornado and plonked down in the magical land of Oz.

“Dorothy’s such a cute character to play. It’s interesting for me to play someone nice and good rather than screaming and shouting at everyone all the time; I get to put on a dress and wear some nice pretty shoes,” she laughs.

The L Frank Baum tale has been given a new pantomime twist packed with dance routines, songs and laughs.

“You’ve got audience participation the whole way through, great songs everyone will know so you can sing-along if you want. It’s not the typical Wizard of Oz,” Dani teases. “Other things will happen along the [yellow brick] road so you don’t really know where it’s going.”

Back on the topic of things you find on the web, is it true she’s releasing an album? She did release the single Free, which fans will recognise as the theme tune to Dani’s House.

“I did get signed to Universal and I did record an album; whether it will ever see the light of day who knows,” she says.

“It’s there and ready and waiting if I ever feel like I want to release it, but right now I’m really comfortable with doing my acting, that’s what I want to focus on.”

And, of course, if she doesn’t get the Who gig there’s always Casualty.

To win a family ticket to see the show, e-mail the name of Dani’s sitcom to by 5pm Monday.

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