‘I starred in the most popular kid’s TV show of the 00s – I’m embarrassed by the scene BBC banned’

‘I starred in the most popular kid’s TV show of the 00s – I’m embarrassed by the scene BBC banned’

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The Story of Tracy Beaker is one of the most iconic BBC children’s shows of the early 00s, becoming a cult classic in the 20 years since it aired.

However, one particularly controversial scene involving then-15-year-old star Ben Hanson as Bouncer Plakova has been slammed by viewers as ‘inappropriate’.

Ben has now revealed even at the time he felt ’embarrassed’ by the scene which sees him dressing as a woman in order to get free gifts from a shop on Mother’s Day.

Speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, he shared: ‘I just remember how embarrassed I was to begin with and how much I looked like my mum, which was really weird.’

Bouncer, in a dress and makeup, attracts the attention of the shopkeeper who has removed his glasses and winds up getting his bum pinched by the old man.

His yelp in response is what gives the game away and the scene hasn’t sat well with modern viewers and has even been removed from iPlayer by the BBC.

Ben Hanson played Bouncer in The Story of Tracy Beaker when he was a teenager (Picture: BBC)

He now looks very different and has ditched acting (Picture: benj.hanson/instagram)

‘I think what people seem to forget with shows like Tracy Beaker is that it’s 20 years old, those episodes come from 20 years ago,’ Ben said.

The Story of Tracy Beaker began airing in 2002, running for five series before coming to a very emotional end.

‘Do I think that sexual harassment should be promoted? Absolutely not, not in the slightest. But also the crux of that episode is that he was dressing up as a mum to try and get [disadvantaged] kids free stuff.

‘I get it, I understand it, and I understand that the way the world is currently, it’s probably not acceptable. But I think there also needs to be a little bit of leeway because it wasn’t filmed for today.’

He stands by the BBC’s decision though and added: ‘If it’s offending anybody or raising awareness of stuff that shouldn’t be [given a platform] then it should be taken away.’

Ben, now in his mid-30s, was best known as part of a comedy duo with Ciaran Joyce who played his on-screen brother, Lol.

The pair had grown up together in Cardiff and their natural chemistry left even the producers convinced they were real-life siblings.

He’s still in touch with Ciaran now and shared that some of the scenes he’s most proud of, are those they filmed together.

Tracy Beaker never shied away from the struggles children face living in care, and Ben is honoured to have brought attention to the ‘difficulties of brothers being broken up’.

‘There are some pretty serious topics covered by Tracy Beaker. I know a lot of it was done in jest but there’s also a lot of seriousness,’ Ben continued.

Bouncer was always up to no good with brother Lol, played by Ciaran Joyce (Picture: BBC)

He says if old scenes are offending people they should be removed (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

‘When I look back now, I’m glad it wasn’t a mockery of life in a care home because it’s brutal and we all know that it’s brutal and most of us have never lived it.’

He praised author Jacqueline Wilson for the original concept but also his co-stars Dani Harmer and Montana Thompson for handling complex subjects at such a young age.

‘I’ve had kind of a tough childhood, in high school I was bullied and stuff like that,’ Ben shared. ‘I would switch off [by watching TV] and if we can be that reprieve for somebody that’s all I care about.’

Despite this early success and being an instrumental part of ‘the last of a dying breed’ of children’s TV, Ben made the tough choice to leave acting behind.

‘It was mainly “I can’t do this anymore”. I think the hardest thing about acting is the rejection you get,’ he admitted.

Tracy Beaker followed the lives of kids living in a care home and is a much loved classic (Picture: BBC)

‘I had a couple of really big auditions and I got down to the last couple and didn’t get and then when that happens six or seven times, it knocks your confidence.

‘I also had some personal circumstances where I had to make a decision whether I continued acting or came away from it. But I loved it, I love acting.’

His Tracy Beaker fame resulted in him getting ‘mobbed’ frequently in public, which took a toll on his family too, particularly his younger sister.

One time, while visiting a bowling alley with Ciaran, the duo were spotted by fans and ended up having to be escorted out by security as the place was shut down in the frenzy.

‘If acting came without the social aspect where everyone is on top of you, I probably could have handled it better but it was just difficult. So I made a choice for me and my family and just thought “I’m gonna step back”.’

Ben loves the show and how it brought attention to often overlooked kids (Picture: benj.hanson/instagram)

Keeping things humble, Ben joked: ‘It’s not like I was inundated with work anyway.’

He’s now based in the US and making a permanent move to Florida with his American girlfriend and her son — who is going to be shown Tracy Beaker one day.

Since the show was never picked up in the States, Ben rarely gets approached and gets to live a regular life as a personal trainer and real-estate agent.

His transformation from beloved Bouncer to fitness fanatic ended up going viral a few years ago as fans couldn’t believe the difference in his appearance.

Having shed the weight of his 15-year-old self, Ben’s Instagram is filled with gym snaps and shirtless pictures where he flexes his muscles.

‘I always say that I can tell when I’m starting putting weight back on because people recognise me,’ he laughed.

Ben added: ‘It’s nice every now and again if I go down to Disney or I go somewhere that there are loads of Brits, sometimes you get a “is that?” [double take].

‘I love when people recognise me, I love when they say hello. I’m so proud of Tracy Beaker I will never not talk about it.’

He is rarely recognised now, thanks to his body transformation (Picture: Instagram/bearfitben)

He hopes the show brings comfort to anyone struggling (Picture: benj.hanson/instagram)

Continuing to praise the groundbreaking show which aired its final episode in 2005, he said: ‘All I ever wanted from Tracy Beaker is for it to give somebody a break.

‘If for that 15 to 20 minutes, you haven’t got to worry about going through a difficult time at school or at home, whatever it may be. However awful your world is outside while you watch it, you just get a bit of a break.

‘If it helps somebody, somewhere then that’s what I would like.’

And for that inevitable day that his girlfriend’s four-year-old watches the show, Ben really hopes the youngster doesn’t start shouting ‘bog off’.

The CBBC icon grinned and said: ‘It’ll be so weird if he does, but I’ll be very, very proud.’

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