Tracy Beaker has returned to screens as an adult, reigniting her feud with her nemesis Justine Littlewood.
My Mum Tracy Beaker sees Dani Harmer return, 19 years after she first played the fiery role created by children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson.
In the new three-part CBBC series, which began on Friday, Tracy has a 10-year-old daughter called Jess and comes up against her childhood enemy Justine.
Harmer said fans would be pleased with the “great” mother Beaker has become.
“They’re very different – Jess is quiet, she’s really good at school, she loves reading, whereas Tracy obviously wasn’t any one of those things,” said the actress, now 32.
The original book, The Story of Tracy Beaker, published in 1991, sold more than a million copies and launched a string of stories that followed Tracy’s life in foster care and made Dame Jacqueline a household name.
Told through a series of diary entries by the title character as she forever waited for her mum to visit, they introduced young audiences to the tensions of life as a child in a foster home (or, as Beaker called it, the “dumping ground”).
The books inspired the popular CBBC show, beginning with the original adaptation in 2002. Harmer last played Beaker in three series of Tracy Beaker Returns, which ran from 2010 to 2012.
My Mum Tracy Beaker, adapted from Dame Jacqueline’s 2018 sequel, now finds the title character in her thirties, with Jess, played by Emma Maggie Davies.
Their lives are drastically changed following the arrival of Tracy’s new boyfriend Sean Godfrey, played by Jordan Duvigneau.
The series also features a host of familiar characters, including Montanna Thompson returning as Justine to revive her foster care rivalry with Beaker.
Lisa Coleman is again cast as her step mother Camilla ‘Cam’ Lawson, alongside Bridgerton star Ruth Gemmell as Tracy’s birth mother Carly Beaker.
A 30-second teaser posted on social media by Harmer on Tuesday – showing Tracy coming face-to-face with her old foe – went viral.
And the first episode was hotly anticipated among fans of the original series, many of whom are now much older than the target audience for CBBC.
It was warmly received, with the Evening Standard saying the reboot was cleverly “calibrated to win over kids and nostalgic adults alike”.
“The original CBBC show dealt with weighty issues with a light touch, and never swamped its young viewers… just like Wilson’s books,” wrote the paper’s critic Kate Rosseinsky in her four-star review.
“Writer Emma Reeves, who has worked on episodes of every Beaker series, has taken a similar approach with this adaptation. The result is a deeply compassionate drama that’s uplifting, funny and never saccharine. It handles its heartbreaking moments as confidently as its heartwarming ones.”
In the Radio Times, Lauren Morris wrote that Tracy and Justine had given viewers another taste of their “entertaining rivalry and memorable tiffs”.
She wrote: “My Mum Tracy Beaker takes their bitter feud to all new satisfying heights…
“While no-one would have thought Tracy Beaker and Justine Littlewood’s reunion would be a cultural event we’d get out of this year, it’s arguably the TV moment we needed during the pandemic.”