Berkshire’s Tracy Beaker star Dani Harmer and what she’s doing now
Adults of a certain age will remember tuning in to The Story of Tracy Beaker , a children’s comedy-drama aired by CBBC from 2002 to 2005. Based on the popular books by beloved children’s author Jacqueline Wilson, the story followed Tracy and other children living at a children’s home known as “The Dumping Ground”. Its star was Dani Harmer, who was 12-years-old when she first filled Tracy’s mischievous shoes.
Over five series the troublesome teen would disobey, plot against and sass the adults trying to provide her some kind of home life. : Peter Jones’s biggest successes and flops on Dragons’ Den She recently returned to TV screens as a grown-up Tracy in My Mum Tracy Beaker.
But what about the real Beaker – and what is her connection to Berkshire? Read on to find out more, including what the actress and acting coach is up to now.
Dani was born in 1989 in Bracknell to children’s casting agent Jill and chauffeur Andy. She is the eldest of two girls – her younger sister Betsy is a hairdresser.
Young Dani began acting early, attending drama classes at Stagecoach from the age of five. Aged seven she won a scholarship to attend Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead, leaving with three GCSEs. In 1994, aged just six, she made her West End debut in rock opera The Who’s Tommy , and a role in Annie followed in 1999.
Bit parts in UK TV series included Pie in the Sky (1997), Trial and Retribution (1999, 2002) and Beast (2001), as well as a role in US fantasy drama The 10th Kingdom (2000). She broke into movies aged 11, playing a minor part as a Hogwarts student in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), although this extra role was uncredited. Tracy Beaker provided Dani’s big break, after which she won roles in My Family , Mighty Truck of Stuff and that mayhem-packed classic of surreal children’s television, Dick and Dom in da Bungalow .
She also began appearing in pantos, notching up parts in Snow White , Peter Pan , Dick Whittington , Cinderella , Jack and the Beanstalk , Robin Hood and the Wizard of Oz . In 2009 she was awarded a coveted Gold Blue Peter Badge for her role as Tracy Beaker, followed by the 2010 Children’s BAFTA for Best Drama. Other award nominations included a 2009 Children’s BAFTA, a 2011 RTS Award and a BAFTA Cymru.
A triple threat
Multi-talented Dani hasn’t confined herself to acting.
In 2008 she won a GBP3 million record contract with Universal Group, recording a studio album titled Superheroes in 2009. There were hopes of her becoming the UK’s answer to Miley Cyrus, as BerkshireLive reported at the time. However although the first single was released, the project was later abandoned.
She had more success as a dancer than a singer, appearing on the tenth season of Strictly Come Dancing in 2012. Paired with Vincent Simone, she succeeded in reaching the grand final, winning a whole host of nines and tens along the way. But the series’ winner would be Olympic gymnast Louis Smith – who arguably had a bit of an unfair advantage.
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Tracy Beaker is returning for another spin-off series (Image: BBC)
Tracy Beaker was concluded with feature-length TV movie Tracy Beaker: The Movie of Me , which saw tearaway teenager Tracy finally adopted into a loving family. Follow-up series Tracy Beaker Returns (2010-2012), which saw Tracy return as a care worker, and The Dumping Ground (2013-present), which continues the story of the children’s home and features Tracy as an occasional guest character.
Dani returned to the starring role in My Mum Tracy Beaker (2021), a series in which the adopted girl – who has since published her autobiography – faces single parenthood, dating and reconciling with her birth mother. CBBC reported that the series was their most successful programme launch ever, with 2.1 million streams on iPlayer during the first three days it was available to watch. Two unrelated series – Dani’s House and Dani’s Castle – aired on CBBC between 2008 and 2015, and also attracted BAFTA nominations.
Her theatre work also continues, and she played leading lady Janet in the 2013 UK tour of cult favourite The Rocky Horror Show. Tracy is set to return for another spin-off in a five-part series titled The Beaker Girls.
The entertainer has also founded an acting school in Berkshire. The Dani Harmer Academy has two locations in Crowthorne and Binfield, where Dani sometimes instructs young aspiring actors.
Through all her endeavours, Dani has reportedly amassed a personal wealth of around GBP2.1 million – although she disputed the claim that she was a “multi-millionaire” when it was made on Twitter earlier this year. She now has a four-year-old daughter with partner Simon Brough, and is expecting a second child. The star shared a baby scan photo with her 141,000 followers online – using niche references to film stars.
She wrote: “Han Solo had Chewie. Frodo has Sam. Shrek had Donkey.
“Now be prepared for the adventures of Avarie-Belle and as of yet unnamed bump, coming soon February 2022.” From stage actor to screen star, movie extra to panto regular, singer to dancer, Dani Harmer has played many roles. But to most of us she will always be, first and foremost, Tracy Beaker.
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