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    Panto-time


    Dani Harmer.
    Dani Harmer.

    Dani: 'I’m just a normal girl from Bracknell'

    Dani Harmer is busy preparing for her first lead role as Peter Pan in this year's Alban Arena Panto.


    St Albans Panto 2005/06

    The Adventures of Peter Pan  with special guests Leslie Grantham (Eastenders) and Dani Harmer (Tracy Beaker)

    The Alban Arena - Friday 16th Dec 2005 to Sunday 8th January 2006

    Despite being just 16 years old Dani Harmer can already boast having spent 10 years in the world of show business.

    Stardom beckoned at the tender age of six when Dani landed the role of Tommy age 4 in Pete Townshend's 'Tommy the Musical' in the West End. 

    Dani and the rest of the cast.
    Dani and the rest of the cast.

    But her big break came when she was cast as Tracey Beaker in the CBBC's television series of Jacqueline Wilson's best selling books.

    Now after five series and movie, Dani is instantly recognisable to most young girls and some older ones as well.

    As Dani prepares for her first lead performance as Peter Pan in pantomime, it is not appearing on stage that worries her, more the flying over the heads of the audience!

    Is this your first pantomime?

    No it is my second, I did panto in December last year where I performed in Snow White, I played that well know loveable character Dolly Mixture, who nobody knows!  I was kind of the Dame’s side kick, I was the idiot basically.

    This year it’s Peter Pan, surely a much bigger role for you?

    Yes indeed it is my first lead in a show so I'm quite nervous but I am really looking forward to it.

    Are you looking forward to being directed by co-star Leslie Grantham?

    Dani is looking forward to working with Leslie!
    Dani meets her co-star!

    He is a very lovely bloke, very funny and I’m looking forward to working with him.

    I believe you are going to fly as part of the performance, are you at all nervous?

    I am absolutely terrified of flying, I'm worried about kicking someone in the head because apparently I'm actually coming from the back of the auditorium and flying to the stage.  I'm also worried about falling on small children as well.

    You are quite small yourself?

    I'm only 5ft 1in, I look very small on the posters for the panto, I believe they are life sized.

    You are only 16 years old, aren't you worried that you will get tired and burned out from a grueling panto run?

    Well I've just come off tour, it was a six week tour of the Wizard of Oz and that was really tough, but I think it kind of prepared me for this so I am really looking forward to it.

    How long have you been involved in acting?

    "It is like having two lives really, you have your life at home and than as soon as you step outside you are getting noticed and pointed at."
    Dani Harmer on living with fame.

    It is 10 years now, I landed my first role when I was six in a West End show called Tommy.  I've been working pretty much constant since doing various bits and bobs and then I landed Tracey Beaker five years ago.

    Do you get a big reaction from 7-11 years olds who are avid fans of the show?

    Yes, which is actually really worrying to know that people know who you are because I'm just a normal girl from Bracknell. 

    It is very strange, it is like having two lives really, you have your life at home and than as soon as you step outside you are getting noticed and pointed at and shouted at.

    If you have been doing it for 5 years does that mean that your original audience have grown up and do they try and pretend they were never fans?

    No they still come up to me, I get 20 year olds coming up to me going ‘oh I love your programme’ and I'm left thinking ‘what are you doing watching it?’ 

    But if you think back 5 years ago they would have been 15 when they were watching it so it is not that bad. 

    Dani as Tracey Beaker
    Dani as Tracey Beaker

    It is always nice to know what people think of the programme and nice to get the feedback because when you are filming it you have only got the camera crew and a few runners.

    Where is your career going to go from here, what do you see yourself doing in the future?

    At the moment I have quite a lot of presenting work lined up so I assume I'm going to start going into that. 

    But I'd like to do everything, more stage and more TV/ Film but I would also like to work behind the cameras as well and learn a bit more about that as well.

    What presenting roles have you got coming up?

    I present a radio programme called The Big Toe on BBC Radio 7, I've been doing that for a few months now. 

    It is two hours live everyday, we play all the music that is out in the charts at the moment and we have some stories for the younger kids that listen and we have email topics so they can contact us. 

    It is a nice show and we get kids into the studio as well that help us present it, so it is very nice to work on.

    How often do you present that then?

    Because I was under 16 when I last presented before my six week tour I was only allowed to do it once every two weeks, but now I think I'm going to be involved a bit more regular. 

    I really enjoy the radio because you don't have to put any make up on you can just sit there in your jogging bottoms.

    Finally, what bit are you most looking forward too with this years panto?

    The interaction with the audience, the character I played in Snow White was very much the idiot who got the entire crowd going.

    I'm really looking forward to that because you get a really different adrenaline rush than you do with television and films.

    Dani Harmer will be starring as Peter Pan alongside Leslie Grantham as Captain Hook at the Alban Arena from Friday 16th December 2005 until Sunday 8th January 2006.

    last updated: 09/02/06
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