The new series begun on Friday but I have been wrestling with myself, wondering whether it’s ok for someone aged twenty two to be writing about their love of Tracy Beaker Returns, a show obviously meant for kids.
(Evidently) I decided it was, as it’s a brilliant show in its own right, as well as being a wonderful little piece of nostalgia for me and other not-quite-adults who grew up (almost) with the inimitable Tracy Beaker, played by Dani Harmer.
Although the original Tracy Beaker was a real favourite of mine, looking back I can see the stories were quite unambitious, the show was too short and some of the acting by the kids was pretty dire. Remember the dreadful Michael anyone? Or Hayley? And even Louise had her moments. Cheeky thirteen year old Lol stands out as one of the best but even he was hiding a dark secret. He was actually 21.
So naturally I was delighted when Tracy Beaker Returns came along and I could not only see what my childhood heroine and favourite careworker Mike are up to now, but also watch a proper 30 minute, well-written drama full of beautiful and touching performances by both talented adult and child actors.
Dani Harmer manages to strike the perfect balance between seeming a (fairly!) responsible adult and care worker whilst still maintaining the fiesty, rebellious and independent side the young Tracy had in abundance.
I wasn’t sure what I’d make of the new Dumping Ground or its residents but both aspects are far better than before. All the children have very well-defined characters which they bring out remarkably naturally.
I think special mention should go to Noah Marullo, who portrays Gus, a boy with Aspergers Syndrome and gets it just right. I like how the character is not overdone or stereotyped. Gus often struggles to understand the world and gets distressed if things aren’t in order but at the same time is a fully functioning and charming child with a real sense of fun.
Mia Mckenna Bruce, as Tee is another particular talent. Her performance when separated from her brother Johnny was very touching. It didn’t quite make me shed a tear but I’m fairly sure some softies I know would have had a little cry at that.
I’ve picked out just two, but I can’t actually stress how impressive and loveable each and every one of the children is.
The stories are much more meaty too, and far more dramatic. It’s very satisfying but also amusing, as an older person watching. The first episode of Series 3 included 2 fires, Tracy being pushed down the stairs and leaving in an ambulance and Gus falling through the floor. These stunts were fairly realistic for a kids’ programme but still endearingly OTT. It all just adds to its charm.
Eastenders, you’ve got nothing on the Dumping Ground!
Catch up with the first ep of Series 3 on BBC iPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b019853n/Tracy_Beaker_Returns_Series_3_Slow_Burn/