Tracy Beaker (character)
Dani Harmer as Tracy Beaker (2003)
|Portrayed by||Dani Harmer
Sarah Churm (Stage Play)
|First appearance||"Tracy Returns to the Dumping Ground" (The Story of Tracy Beaker)|
|Last appearance||"Goodbye Tracy Beaker" (Tracy Beaker Returns)|
|Created by||Jacqueline Wilson|
|Classification||Former; Main; Regular|
|Home||Cam Lawson's House|
Tracy Beaker is the lead character in the Tracy Beaker franchise. After first appearing as the main character in Jacqueline Wilson's 1991 book The Story of Tracy Beaker, she appeared in the popular children's television drama of the same name, portrayed by Dani Harmer, and its sequel series Tracy Beaker Returns, as well as numerous spin-offs, Jacqueline Wilson books, a play and a video game.
In her first appearances in the Tracy Beaker books and in the television series The Story of Tracy Beaker, Tracy lives in care at a carehome referred to as the "Dumping Ground". She has a wild imagination and regularly breaks rules. As such, she is considered a bad role model by parents. In Tracy Beaker Returns, she works as a careworker at the Dumping Ground. She is mentioned a number of times in the spin-off The Dumping Ground, although she does not actually make an appearance.
Tracy is Wilson's most popular character; however she is not Wilson's personal favourite. The Tracy Beaker books were the most-loaned books from public libraries in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2010.
The Story of Tracy Beaker
Series 1 (2002)
Tracy returns to the Dumping Ground, after being kicked out of Ted and Julie's house because the new baby arrived and Tracy has a horrible history with babies. Angrily, she packs her things to stay only to see her best friend, Louise (Chelsie Padley) being friends with Justine Littlewood (Montanna Thompson). Then, she becomes even more infuriated when Justine has her old bedroom, due to her being away, whilst she was fostered. Instantly, she becomes Justine's worst enemy and breaks, by sneaking into her room, Justine's clock which her dad got for her. In an attempt to escape from the Dumping Ground, she meets her new friend, Ben Batambuze, who says that he lives on the streets, they keep on chatting and instantly become friends in the process as they walk along the streets together happily and she is impressed with the large quantities of chocolate she is given by him.
Tracy meets Cam Lawson (Lisa Coleman), a struggling author, as there is not much activity in the Dumping Ground and Tracy is extremely excited, but is upset when Justine has to dampen her spirits and wears makeup, from Adele, to impress her, with disastrous results. She does this by bribing her. Since she is an author and Tracy loves writing, she wants to make a first good impression on her and ends up having a fight with Justine, as she provoked her, making them embarrassed as Cam watches the whole thing. Cam, who has still not decided whether or not to foster her. Banned from phoning her, Tracy enlists Ben's help to go to see Cam in person. When they arrive at her flat, Cam is out, so Tracy and Ben rearrange the furniture, play music and eat chocolate. When Cam gets home, she is furious and takes Tracy back. Tracy later apologies for breaking into her flat, and Cam says that she is still considering fostering her. Cam asks Tracy to move in with her. Tracy agrees, packs straight away and has a lovely goodbye from all the staff and children.
Series 2 (2003)
Tracy lands back at the Dumping Ground after setting fire to Cam's kitchen. After this incident, Tracy refuses to talk to Cam, so Elaine (Nisha Nayar) resolves to get them talking with a series of role-play and trust exercises. Whilst Elaine briefly leaves the room, Tracy and Cam sneak off and Tracy decides to show Cam what it's like to 'be her', which culminates in a disappearance at the shops to indicate how she felt when Cam left her As the episode ends, their friendship is back on track. Tracy meets Ben's Aunt and Uncle, Kate and Jasper, who decide that they want to foster her. Tracy is initially ecstatic about this, only to learn that living with Kate and Jasper would mean moving to Scotland – far away from the DG, her best friend Ben and of course, Cam. In the end Tracy decides to go to Scotland, but only for a holiday.
Series 3 (2003–04)
Tracy is still living in the DG, but gets worried when new head care worker Shelley Appleton (Nicola Reynolds) to move her to a different care home. To make matters worse, Cam is leaving for New York. Fortunately, after the other kids form an alliance to all leave if Tracy does, Shelley postpones the idea. She later makes friends with new arrival Jackie Hopper, who makes a dash for the door at every opportunity, whom Tracy convinces to stay at the Dumping Ground for a while.
Series 4 (2004–05)
Tracy's back and living with Cam, and just around the corner at the new location of the Dumping Ground is the arrival of the Wellards. They guarantee it won't be a smooth move. But Tracy Beaker's taken back to save the day. Whilst in the Dumping Ground, it is Bouncer's birthday and he is leaving, Tracy is living with Cam and tries to set straight the situation at the DG. Tracy decides its time to meet Cam's mum, her adoptive grandmother, and surprisingly likes her, which she didn't expect at all.Tracy is still living with Cam. Tracy spends the shopping money for things she wants. At first, Tracy wakes up and she is back at the care-home and everyone seems to be singing and not enjoying themselves and suddenly it becomes like the west-end musical, Chicago. Crash, Jackie and Tracy have a master plan as they take pranks from the nasty Wellards. But Chantal is feeling rather emotional over Jackie's feelings for her. Tracy helps when Bouncer has feelings over care worker Jane.
Series 5 (2005)
The first few episodes of the fifth series do not feature Tracy, as she is on holiday with Cam in Egypt. She contacts the DG daily. However, she returns to the care home afterwards, when Cam's new boyfriend Gary moves in with them. Most episodes do not include Tracy for unknown reasons. Tracy Beaker makes a shock return to the Dumping Ground. Tracy has decided that she can't live with Cam anymore because Cam wants her new boyfriend Gary to move in with them. Tracy is forced to think about her future, So she agrees to spend time with Cam and Gary and, to her surprise, they get on brilliantly... until Cam drops the bombshell that they're getting married – this is way too much for Tracy to handle and she wants nothing to do with the 'sordid' affair. Cam and Gary get married and Tracy only manages to make it thanks to Crash and Jackie. In the end, Cam and Gary tell Tracy they are going to adopt her.
Tracy Beaker Returns
Series 1 (2010)
Four years later, she has written an autobiography, however, she used Cam's credit card to publish it and the police soon catch on. She is arrested and interviewed before being locked up, where it was revealed that Cams' marriage with Gary did not work, with Tracy stating that they do not talk about him. The reason why is still unknown. She is released when Cam drops the charges, on condition that she pays her back and that she helps write a column for the newspaper. When she returns home, she hears some angry sounding messages from Cam and she runs away from home. She ends up in the Dumping ground and Mike allows her to stay the night. The next day she asks Mike for a job and he lets her become an assistant careworker. However, she does not do a good job, always being late and breaking her promises to the kids. When she is told that she might be fired, she quits and leaves. With the help of the kids, she gets her job back. After that, she has a job filled with excitement almost every day and she becomes closer to the kids, particularly Lily and Toby because of their problems. Some of her adventures as a careworker include her disastrous first night shift at the Dumping Ground, her attempt to get Lily back with Poppy and Rosie and her attempt of finding out about stolen goods in Sapphire's room. In the last episode of the first series, Tracy is offered a job for a newspaper in London and she has to write an article about life in care. Everyone refuses to help at first, but eventually they decide to help her. Tracy is given the job, but she turns it down, saying that she would much rather stay at the Dumping Ground.
Series 2 (2011)
Tracy learns that the council are going to shut down the Dumping Ground and so she climbs onto the roof and starts a protest. The protest ends in disaster, however, when Lily ends up climbing onto the roof and falling off. As a result, the Dumping Ground is briefly blue, but rebeakerised thanks to the news reports about the accident. Mike is almost sacked because of the protest, but he is thankfully let in. Lily is fostered by Cam after the accident, and Tracy starts to feel jealous as it has always just been her and Cam living together. After briefly getting a second job at a cafe to avoid spending time at home, Tracy finally accepts having Lily as a sister and they start to bond even more. After many more adventures at the Dumping Ground, including being made to dress up as a giant sausage with Sapphire and having to be a team leader during a weekend in the countryside, Tracy finally loses Lily as a sister when she decides to live with her dad once again. When Cam leaves for New York, Tracy starts having panic attacks at home, finally resulting in a big one in front of the kids.
Series 3 (2012)
Tracy deals with cynical Burnywood careworker Dennis Stokle, tries to get shy, mousy Kitty out of her shell despite being warned of her unpredictable behaviour resulting in Tracy being injured badly, and helping Lily to try to help her to get Rosie and Poppy with their dad, Steve Kettle.In episode 7, Tracy has difficulty when she was warned by Dennis of Kitty's unpredictable behaviour at the Dumping ground when Justine Littlewood returns.Later in the episode,Justine announced that she is getting married with a man called Charlie.(Episode 12).In the final episode of Tracy Beaker returns,Tracy decides to leave DG because she becomes a fully qualified careworker in a different care home. She is replaced with Melanie, who makes Tracy jealous because on Tracy's last day of working at the DG she does everything better than Tracy does including Jody Jackson's life after she has an allergic reaction. Tracy sleeps overnight at the DG then the next morning says goodbye to Mike and leaves for good.
Tracy Beaker is introduced as a ten-year-old girl living in a children's residential care home nicknamed the "Dumping Ground". The nickname is explained in The Story of Tracy Beaker as being where children in care are "dumped" when they are "past their sell-by date". She has been described as a modern heroine, with regular looks and curly brown hair. It is revealed that she has been placed in care not because she is an orphan but owing to her mother not being good at looking after her. Tracy imagines that her mother is a Hollywood Star who will collect her one day. Carly Beaker, who is Tracy's mum, really is a film star but does stunts as revealed in Tracy Beaker's Movie of Me. Her personality has been described as bossy and rebellious, whilst likable and creative. She has been estranged from her mother for a long period and regularly disagrees with the staff and children at the Dumping Ground. On top of this she has been rejected by two sets of foster parents, one time because the couple looking after her were about to have a baby and couldn't keep Tracy with them, much to her upset.
Originally introduced in the book The Story of Tracy Beaker, to date the character has appeared in two further books, The Dare Game and Starring Tracy Beaker. She has also appeared in Red Nose Day special called Tracy Beaker's Thumping Heart.
In 2002, the BBC made a children's series based on the books, The Story of Tracy Beaker, starring Dani Harmer as Tracy. The programme ran for five series on CBBC and included a one-off feature-length movie, Tracy Beaker's Movie of Me. Harmer first took on the role at the age of 12 and has maintained it for 10 years. The character returned for an additional three series of Tracy Beaker Returns, in which an adult Tracy Beaker helps a new generation of kids at the Dumping Ground.
The character has also appeared in a stage adaptation of the book, Tracy Beaker Gets Real, starring Sarah Churm as Tracy. It was written by Mary Morris, one of the writers of the TV series. Like the television series, the set used elements of cartoon themes, similar to the illustrations in the books.
In 2009, Tracy Beaker became a video game character in Tracy Beaker: The Game on Nintendo DS and PC. The game, described as "bookish", involves reading large portions of text to make choices for the character.
Similar to Wilson's other characters, Tracy Beaker is a child from a difficult background, dealing with her issues in a cynical manner and with lots of yelling. The character elicits strong feelings from both children and parents and, as she struggles to come to terms with her situation, she regularly breaks rules. Her fanbase is primarily girls between 8 and 14, as 90% of those who turn up to Jaqueline Wilson's book signings are in that group. However, the books are also on reading lists for schools, so boys will be involved in the classroom. The Story of Tracy Beaker has been UK libraries' most-loaned book between 2000 and 2010.
In its description of Tracy, an article for the Herald Scotland states: "Though her life is bleak, Tracy is funny, imaginative, articulate and hopeful, like all Wilson's heroines." A Liverpool Echo article describes Tracy as "a heroine – a cult character who could be played by any actress." Winifred Robinson, writing in a Daily Mail editorial, criticised the character and suggested that behaviour such as her outbursts were influencing children to act in a similar manner. She also criticised the complexity of the emotions expressed by Tracy, as they were being repeated by other children who cannot understand them; for example, the suggestion that they are deprived because they do not have enough sweets. Robinson finishes by criticising Jaqueline Wilson's form, where adults who are trying to help are undermined by the children along with books with largely adult themes.
- Wilson Jacqueline. "Tracy Beaker Profile". author. Jacqueline Wilson. p. 1. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- "Entertainment | Grown-up return for Tracy Beaker". BBC News. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
- Wilson, Jacqueline (2007). Jacky Daydream. Doubleday. p. 307. ISBN 0-385-61015-7.
- Blackhall, Sue (4 January 2002). "Another success story thanks to children's books". The Evening Standard. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- Woods, Judith (27 August 2011). "Tracy Beaker taught me everything I know!". Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 May 2012.(subscription required)
- "TRACY'S TEEN SPIRIT; TV's bossy Beaker is coming to life on stage". Liverpool Echo. 3 October 2006. Retrieved 21 May 2012.(subscription required)
- Key, Philip (11 October 2006). "ARTS DIARY: Little orphan with attitude let loose; THEATRE Tracy Beaker Gets Real, Liverpool Playhouse Philip Key casts an eye over a gritty tale of a rebellious girl.(Features)". Liverpool Post. Retrieved 21 May 2012.(subscription required)
- Elkin, Susan (23 August 2009). "Young at heart: Jacqueline Wilson is back with a new book – and her first venture into videogames". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- "'Tracy Beaker' creator is most-loaned author". The Independent. 12 February 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2012. (subscription required)
- Custom byline text: Anne Johnstone (2012-05-03). "We're all to blame for Neve and Georgia". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
- "icLiverpool – Review: Tracy Beaker Gets Real, Empire Theatre". Icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk. 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
- "The hypocritical Ms Wilson: Why children's writers are hugely to blame for loss of innocence | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2012-05-22.