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Series / The Story of Tracy Beaker

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A BBC children's programme that aired from 2002 to 2005, it is based on the popular books written by Jacqueline Wilson. The story revolves around the titular character of Tracy Beaker who lives in a care home and the events that follow. Most of the episodes revolve around Tracy fantasizing about the day her biological mother will come for her, as well as trying to find the perfect foster home in the meantime.

The show lasted for 5 seasons and was followed by a sequel, Tracy Beaker Returns, focusing on Tracy as a young adult, along with a spin-off, The Dumping Ground, showing the events of the characters in the care home after Tracy left. In 2021, Dani Harmer reprised the role in the miniseries My Mum, Tracy Beaker and The Beaker Girls.


Tropes that are in this series:

  • Abusive Parents: Crash's father Theo is revealed to be in prison for domestic abuse against his wife and son, which is why Crash is in care and has a violent temper. It's implied he still keeps in touch with his mother, who may possibly be in witness protection.
    • Theo is later released from prison and although Crash is terrified of meeting with him again at first, the two gradually reconcile.
  • Aerith and Bob: Bouncer, Lol, Crash, Wolfie and Duke... and every other name, though they are nicknames.
  • Alpha Bitch: Justine, Amber, Rebecca, Roxy, though all of them are good in heart.
  • Anti-Role Model: One episode had Tracy convincing Marco, Hayley and Dolly to form a "Tracy Beaker" club, which causes them to play pranks around the house and almost ruin Dolly's chance to be fostered. In the end, Tracy herself acknowledged how bad of a role-model she was to the younger kids, and explained that they were good at heart.
  • Break the Haughty: Louise is a downplayed example in the episode "Power Cut". She spends the first half of the episode boasting about her new foster dad, showing off about her singing voice and generally acting the know-it-all. However, after gorging on tuna-and-peanut-butter sandwiches provided by Duke, she soon suffers an embarrassing after-effect in front of most of the kids (see Gasshole below).
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  • Butt-Monkey: Elaine, and maybe Ben.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The Wellards: Roxy’s the brains, Chantal the beauty, and Rio is the male example of brawn.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Louise and Justine can be examples of this when they're not being outright nasty. Rebecca also counts. To a lesser extent, this also applies to Carly Beaker - even though she looks glamorous and has a sunny demeanor, she's unreasonable, immature, shoplifts cosmetics, and holds grudges.
  • Blatant Lies: Tracy claiming to have "hayfever" any time she bursts into tears, regardless of whether it's hayfever season or whether her crying even remotely resembles hayfever.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Tracy in her younger years. She grows somewhat out of it when she gets older.
  • Breakout Character: Mike Milligan. Even though he only appeared in Series 1, his close friendship with Tracy made fans love him so much he returned as the new cook in Series 5 and eventually became Head Care Worker. He's since gone on to become the only character from this series to appear in Tracy Beaker Returns and The Dumping Ground.
  • Cassandra Truth: Subverted. In the early seasons, Tracy frequently claims her mum is a world famous film star. When her mum shows up in the TV Movie, we discover that she is indeed an actress - albeit a not particularly well-known stunt double.
  • Catchphrase: "Bog off!" Usually spoken by Tracy when she wants to be left alone, and later used by some of the others.
  • Characterization Marches On: In Series 1, Elaine is shown to be very serious, professional, and good at her job, much like her book counterpart. From Series 2 onward, however, shows her to be very clumsy, awkward, and very incompetent at her job.
  • Christmas Episode: Subverted with "Christmas", since the episode doesn't take place around Christmas time.
  • Cool Big Sis: Tracy can be seen as this to Peter in the first series, and to Jackie from series 3 onwards, as well as to some of the other younger kids.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Maxy, Ryan, Zac, Michael, Nathan, and Sid all disappear between seasons with no mention to their whereabouts. With the kids, it's safe to assume they've been fostered or adopted. With the care workers, they possibly were transferred to other care homes.
  • The Cutie: All the little kids like Peter, Maxy, Dolly, Layla, Hayley, Marco, Milly, and Alice.
  • Dark Reprise: Sadder moments (in particular, Tracy pining for her mother) were often underscored by a slower, more sombre piano rendition of the main theme tune.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Rio becomes this later in Series 4 and 5, where he is shown to be nicer and friendlier to the other kids, especially Crash after the two strike up a friendship.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: By the end of Series 5, Justine is nowhere near as petty or as nasty as she was in the other series, and even becomes a close friend to Crash and Jackie, as Rebecca takes her place as the Dumping Ground's nastiest character. In one episode in Series 5, Justine comforts an upset Roxy who is broken up about her sister leaving the Home.
    • Also, Chantal and Roxy who open up more and become nicer in Series 5.
  • Demoted to Extra: After leaving with her new foster family in series 2, Louise became a Drop-In Character in series 3. She was eventually Put on a Bus for the rest of the show without explanation.
    • Also, after Bouncer leaves for the halfway house at the end of series 4, he makes many guest appearances in series 5.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the show always had a lighthearted and comical tone, Series 5 had a lot more silly episodes such as a farm coming to the Dumping Ground, an episode where Tracy imagines she is head careworker, Bouncer's food causing everyone to acting weird just to name a few.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Even though Michael acts like a jerk to every other kid, he is friendly towards Louise since he has a crush on her.
  • Enemy Mine: Tracy and Justine once teamed up to overthrow Elaine. Another time, they also tricked Michael into going out with the Bygraves, a pair of funeral directors who were originally there for Tracy.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While she has an ongoing rivalry with Tracy, Justine calls Cam out at the end of Series 3 for hurting Tracy. She later goes to comfort Tracy and tries to build bridges with her. The two even share a hug.
  • Fat and Skinny: Bouncer and Lol. Also Duke with Mike, Nathan, and Sid.
  • The Friend No One Likes: Elaine "the Pain" Boyak is hated by the staff as well as the children.
    • For the children, Michael is hated by the other kids for constantly bullying and snitching on them.
  • Gasshole: Louise, of all characters, briefly ends up as one in the episode "Power Cut". Due to not being able to see well in the dark kitchen, Duke accidentally puts tuna and peanut butter together in sandwiches, and Louise is apparently the only one who enjoys this strange combination and presumably eats them all as a result. However, the sandwiches don't entirely agree with her, and it's not long before Louise's bottom announces this loudly...
    • Tracy also burps loudly after a large meal with Cam and Gary in the penultimate episode.
  • Goth: All three of the Wellards don a goth fashion style, to make them much more intimidating. Deep down, however, they have good hearts.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Tracy and Crash.
  • Happily Adopted: Tracy and Cam subvert this with their on and off relationship and Tracy frequently returning to the care home after a heated argument. Finally played straight in the series finale where Cam adopts Tracy.
    • Also played straight with Peter, Louise, Dolly, Hayley, Marco, and Milly, who are all fostered into good families.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Bouncer and Lol are a brotherly variant. They are close to each other, share a room at The Dumping Ground, and do almost everything together. Episodes also show that they are very protective of each other and Bouncer frequently visits Lol at The Dumping Ground after leaving for the halfway house. At the end of the series, Lol moves to the halfway house to be with Bouncer.
  • Imagine Spot: All over the place, usually courtesy of Tracy, and always animated in Nick Sharratt's distinctive style.
  • In-Series Nickname: "Elaine the Pain" for Elaine the social worker who nobody likes and "The Dumping Ground" for the care home where the show takes place.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Although Tracy is frequently rude, abrasive, vain, proud and self-centred, she is, in fact, a good person at heart who cares deeply for Cam and her friends. Her tough attitude is partly from the years she spent on her own in care.
    • Other examples include Justine, Amber, and the Wellards and to a much lesser extent, Michael and Rebecca.
  • Manchild: Nathan pretty much acts like one of the kids himself.
  • Not What It Looks Like: In one episode, Elaine arrives at Cam's house for a routine visit, and Cam answers the door holding a knife with a red substance on it. Elaine is unnerved enough to have an Imagine Spot of Cam chasing Tracy with said knife, until Cam points out, "It's tomato sauce, Elaine."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Duke, Bouncer, Lol, Crash, and Wolfie.
  • Orphanage of Love: In spite of its nickname, The Dumping Ground does qualify. The staff are genuinely doing their best to look after the kids in their care.
  • Out of Focus: Tracy in the later seasons, which is ironic in the sense that she's the title character. Series 5 has her in less than half of the episodes, leaving Justine to essentially take over as the main character.
  • Parental Abandonment: Most of the kids in the care home, including Tracy, whose mother often neglected her and left her home alone a lot.
  • Parental Substitute: Mike to Tracy, which is why she is hard hit when he decides to leave at the end of Season 1. Cam later becomes this after she and Tracy start a friendship and she eventually fosters her.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Jackie, especially in the running sport.
  • Pink Is Erotic: Downplayed. The color pink is often used to represent feelings of love and romance between characters.
  • Poor Little Rich Kid: It's reavealed that Wolfie's parent have money and regularly send him checks while he's in the care home. Wolfie refuses the gifts as he can't forgive them for the years of abuse and neglect. The exact nature of the parental abandonment isn't mentioned but given that Wolfie is in care to begin with and his aversion to sleeping on a bed or just being inside due to his extreme {claustrophobia} it seems like it was traumatic.
    Wolfie: They're always trying to buy me off with presents. To make up for what they did to me.
  • Precision F-Strike: Only one example, wherein Hayley says "Life's a bitch" to a police officer in the movie. This was cut out when shown on the BBC and is the only curse said throughout the series. The censored version involves Hayley sighing instead.
  • Put on a Bus: Mike, Peter, Adele, Amber, Dolly, Hayley, Justine, Duke, Jenny, Louise, Jackie, Marco, Milly, and Chantal.
  • Race Lift: Elaine, who was illustrated white, is played by a British Indian actress. Justine is also portrayed white in the books, whereas she isn't in the series.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Jenny, Shelley, Sid, Mike, and Duke.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Whenever a new season starts this can pop up. This was particularly apparent with Season 3, when five new children that had not appeared previously are living in the care home. This includes; Dolly, Lol, Bouncer, Marco, Hayley, Layla, Crash, Michael, Sid, Rebecca and the reintroduction of Mike in Series 5.
  • The Runaway: This is prevalent in the movie, wherein Tracy runs away to find her mother. Poor Cam and the Dumping Ground staff are riddled with worry as to Tracy's whereabouts and wellbeing.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Whenever Tracy cries, she blames it on her hayfever. Other characters also claim this at times.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: Jackie's grandfather has dementia which is the reason why he can't look after her anymore.
  • Ship Tease: Tracy with Wilson in Series 3, Tracy with Crash in the movie, and Crash with Justine briefly in Series 5.
  • Status Quo Is God: No matter how many times Tracy and Justine end up getting along in an episode, the next time they appear, they're back to being rivals. Averted in Series 5 where the two generally get along well for the most part.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Zack and Ryan, scheming brothers that are close friends with Ben in Series 1, are replaced without notice by Lol and Bouncer in Series 2. Similarly, Maxy, a young black character in Series 1 is replaced by Dolly. It is probable that these roles were initially written for the former characters, with the intention being that the actors would reprise their roles in Series 2.
    • Crash seems to replace Ben from Series 3 onwards, being of a similar age and appearance, and befriending Tracy closely.
    • Sid acts as a replacement for Shelley in Series 4, and also bears a slight resemblance to Nathan from the previous series.
  • Those Two Guys: Bouncer and Lol are almost always seen doing things together. Also, Duke and Nathan are typically paired up in series 2 and 3, and Zac and Ryan in series 1.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Tracy, Crash, and Jackie eventually become this by series 5. In the episode where Jackie returns to the Dumping Ground, Mike and Freddy compare them to the Three Musketeers.
  • Three Shorts: When airing on CBBC, two episodes are shown back to back.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Essentially a British Y2K take on Punky Brewster, right down to both girls' situations, personalites, and peer groups.
  • Silent Bob: Milly. She never talks except for two episodes (one was in a dream by Tracy and the other was when she asked to be fostered with Marco).
  • Town Girls: Tracy is a tough and confident girl with a fiery temper and claims to "never cry" (butch), Louise is sweet, girly, and cares about her outfits (femme), and Justine enjoys fashion, but is also a Deadpan Snarker who isn't afraid to fight or get dirty (neither).
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Jenny and the kids are frequently seen munching on chocolate bars.
  • Valentine's Day Episodes: "Love All" which involves a small Love Triangle between Crash, Justine, and Rebecca and a subplot with Marco and Milly playing Cupid and pairing up the other kids for the Valentine's Day party.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Dolly, a seven-year-old girl introduced in Season 2 is shown to be this in a couple of episodes, one where the kids are obsessed with making videos to convince Hollywood movie stars to adopt them and Dolly sends endless emails to a celebrity couple and later receives a box of autographed movie merchandise in the mail as compensation, which was her plan in the first place.
    • Another episode sees the Dumping Ground kids compete in a quiz competition with another children's home, and Dolly manages to confiscate a phone the other team was using for cheating.
  • Zany Scheme: Usually thought of by Zac and Ryan in series 1. Lol and Bouncer take over this role from series 2 onward.