Dani Harmer captured the imaginations of thousands of children, as she brought Jacqueline Wilson's most loveable character, Tracy Beaker, to life in the children's television adaptation of the book.

Now the show is coming to an end as spin off, Tracy Beaker Returns, is back for the final time - and Dani, who turns 23 this year, is ready to ditch the curly locks and shed her child-star image.

She talks to FemaleFirst about Beaker, BAFTAs, and being Doctor Who's next assistant.

How does it feel to know that Tracy Beaker is coming to an end?
It's been ten years of my teenage life really and it's a bit sad but all good things must come to an end, and it just felt like the right time really, otherwise I'd still be playing Tracy Beaker at the age of 30 and that's not a good thing. I'm also excited about it finishing because that means I get to do other stuff in the future.

How did you find out about the role - did your hair give you a head start?
I went to a theatre school and I got sent for the audition, so basically through my agent. I do actually have an afro in real life, my hair is ridiculously curly! So that was actually my real hair, but I never had it cut in that style because it was disgusting. I used to be in make up for a good hour in the morning getting it all pinned up to make it look shorter because it's quite long!

You started playing Tracy at a young age, did you ever feel like you missed out on your childhood by devoting so much of it to filming?
I was 12 when I started, so I suppose I did miss out on things, but I also got to do loads of stuff that not many other 12 year olds get to do, like presenting on CBBC, and going to awards ceremonies. When I was 16 I got to go to Buckingham Palace to be involved with the Queen's birthday. So, yes, I did miss out on a lot, but I also got to do loads of stuff that teenagers would die to do. It was a completely different childhood, but I don't regret it at all.

What are your highlights of being on the show?
Oh gosh, there are so many. I think one of them was last year when Tracy Beaker finally won a BAFTA so I was very, very proud, and I went up to collect it. I think that was probably my proudest moment. But also being involved in the Queen's birthday was a pretty big deal, and just getting to meet the Queen and all these amazing actors.

Why did you decide to finish now, was it a conscious decision on your part?
It was mainly me. We brought back 'The Return', and we thought it was just going to be one series but it just keeps going. It's such a popular programme, and obviously the BBC love it. If it was down to them they'd probably keep it going forever, so it was my idea to leave.

It's a struggle for me because people see me as Tracy Beaker, but I'm still young

Tracy was a much loved character - are you going to miss playing her?
Yeah, I am going to miss playing her because she was so much fun and you never quite know where her moods are going to go, and I like that about a character, when you have no idea how she's going to react in situations, and it is fun getting to shout at people, because I don't do that in real life. I am going to miss the character, and it was ten years of my life but I'm excited about playing other characters.

You had your own show on children's television, (Dani's house) how was that?
That was absolutely amazing - it was so much fun to do. I got to kind of help create it really, and it took us about two years to get it commissioned and put on the television, so that was a real learning curve, to see how you get a show commissioned and those first steps before the actors are involved. That was fun - I got to dress up in some ridiculous costumes, and hang around with my best mates really.

Have you ever been worried about being typecast?
It's one of those things, all actors have to face it at some point, that they're going to get typecast, I mean, if you're in a soap, it's difficult to get out of that too. It's a struggle for me because people see me as Tracy Beaker, but I'm still young, I'm just about to turn 23, so hopefully there's plenty of time for me to kind of move away from the character and and for people to see me in more adult roles.

You also starred in BBC sitcom 'After You've Gone' - what was it like to work alongside such successful actors?
Absolutely amazing - the part was actually written for me, which I didn't realise at the time, so I had the part already before I even went to the audition. I believe I was the first person cast, so I didn't know anyone else who was in it, so when I went to the read through and I was sat next to Celia Imrie, I nearly collapsed because she is one of my favourite actors of all time. And obviously Nicholas Lyndhurst as well, it was just amazing to work with such brilliant actors, and they're so professional. I learnt a lot from both of them.

What made you decide to try your hand at the music industry?
I got approached by Universal to make an album, and I just thought 'okay, it's not really something I've ever wanted to do' - but it's Universal, so I was like, 'sure why not!' I think you've got to try these things. It didn't really work out because my heart wasn't really in it, and I was so busy doing Tracy Beaker and Dani's House that there was no time to promote it. I enjoyed making the album, although I don't think it's something I would do again to be honest.

You were an extra in the first Harry Potter film - how did that come about?
Basically my agency had loads of kids on it, and someone was ill - I fitted their costume and had a couple of days off, so I went and was an extra in the background, but that was pretty much it to be honest - I think I was there for about a week!

Have you always wanted to be an actress? 
Yes! I've wanted to be an actress since a really stupid age, three of four, and always said to my mum that this is what I want to do. I got my first job when I was six, so I think I was just born to be an actress.

You appeared in 'Tommy' in the West End when you were younger, would you like to get back into musical theatre?
Yeah, definitely. I did a lot of musicals while I was at school and it is something I miss. I get to do it when I'm in panto, but I'd really love to do musicals.

What's next?
Well there's loads of things I want to do, and lots in the pipeline, but I really, really want to be Doctor Who's next assistant, so hopefully they might contemplate it! That would be amazing.

So would that be your dream role?
Definitely - I don't actually watch the programme, but I like the idea of being in it! Doctor Who is my next mission.

Georgia Smith

Dani Harmer captured the imaginations of thousands of children, as she brought Jacqueline Wilson's most loveable character, Tracy Beaker, to life in the children's television adaptation of the book.

Now the show is coming to an end as spin off, Tracy Beaker Returns, is back for the final time - and Dani, who turns 23 this year, is ready to ditch the curly locks and shed her child-star image.

She talks to FemaleFirst about Beaker, BAFTAs, and being Doctor Who's next assistant.

How does it feel to know that Tracy Beaker is coming to an end?
It's been ten years of my teenage life really and it's a bit sad but all good things must come to an end, and it just felt like the right time really, otherwise I'd still be playing Tracy Beaker at the age of 30 and that's not a good thing. I'm also excited about it finishing because that means I get to do other stuff in the future.

How did you find out about the role - did your hair give you a head start?
I went to a theatre school and I got sent for the audition, so basically through my agent. I do actually have an afro in real life, my hair is ridiculously curly! So that was actually my real hair, but I never had it cut in that style because it was disgusting. I used to be in make up for a good hour in the morning getting it all pinned up to make it look shorter because it's quite long!

You started playing Tracy at a young age, did you ever feel like you missed out on your childhood by devoting so much of it to filming?
I was 12 when I started, so I suppose I did miss out on things, but I also got to do loads of stuff that not many other 12 year olds get to do, like presenting on CBBC, and going to awards ceremonies. When I was 16 I got to go to Buckingham Palace to be involved with the Queen's birthday. So, yes, I did miss out on a lot, but I also got to do loads of stuff that teenagers would die to do. It was a completely different childhood, but I don't regret it at all.

What are your highlights of being on the show?
Oh gosh, there are so many. I think one of them was last year when Tracy Beaker finally won a BAFTA so I was very, very proud, and I went up to collect it. I think that was probably my proudest moment. But also being involved in the Queen's birthday was a pretty big deal, and just getting to meet the Queen and all these amazing actors.

Why did you decide to finish now, was it a conscious decision on your part?
It was mainly me. We brought back 'The Return', and we thought it was just going to be one series but it just keeps going. It's such a popular programme, and obviously the BBC love it. If it was down to them they'd probably keep it going forever, so it was my idea to leave.

Tracy was a much loved character - are you going to miss playing her?
Yeah, I am going to miss playing her because she was so much fun and you never quite know where her moods are going to go, and I like that about a character, when you have no idea how she's going to react in situations, and it is fun getting to shout at people, because I don't do that in real life. I am going to miss the character, and it was ten years of my life but I'm excited about playing other characters.

You had your own show on children's television, (Dani's house) how was that?
That was absolutely amazing - it was so much fun to do. I got to kind of help create it really, and it took us about two years to get it commissioned and put on the television, so that was a real learning curve, to see how you get a show commissioned and those first steps before the actors are involved. That was fun - I got to dress up in some ridiculous costumes, and hang around with my best mates really.

Have you ever been worried about being typecast?
It's one of those things, all actors have to face it at some point, that they're going to get typecast, I mean, if you're in a soap, it's difficult to get out of that too. It's a struggle for me because people see me as Tracy Beaker, but I'm still young, I'm just about to turn 23, so hopefully there's plenty of time for me to kind of move away from the character and and for people to see me in more adult roles.

You also starred in BBC sitcom 'After You've Gone' - what was it like to work alongside such successful actors?
Absolutely amazing - the part was actually written for me, which I didn't realise at the time, so I had the part already before I even went to the audition. I believe I was the first person cast, so I didn't know anyone else who was in it, so when I went to the read through and I was sat next to Celia Imrie, I nearly collapsed because she is one of my favourite actors of all time. And obviously Nicholas Lyndhurst as well, it was just amazing to work with such brilliant actors, and they're so professional. I learnt a lot from both of them.

  1. by Humairayasmin 23rd Dec 2013 23:49

    I am really going to miss 'Tracy beaker ' I just wanted to ask a question are you in real life actually really close to the actor acting as Michael Milligan ? And , are you going to miss the children acting wiv you like Mia and Amy and Jess and saphron and everyone?

  2. by Humairayasmin 23rd Dec 2013 23:51

    And now do you act in the programme dani's castle