Tracy-Ann Oberman on the strong women who've shaped her

Today’s guest, Tracy-Ann Oberman has made a career out of defying expectations. After training as an actor she went straight to the RSC before deciding to study standup so she could switch between comedy and drama. She has starred in Dr Who, Friday Night Dinner, It’s a sin, amongst many others But It was when she got the role of Chrissie Watts (Dirty Den’s second wife on Eastenders - sorry kids if you don’t know WTH I’m talking about!) That she became a household face and name.

Right now, she is breaking more new ground, as the first actress to play Shylock in a landmark production of the Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare’s classic is transported to 1930s London and Tracy-Ann plays Shylock as a tough, no-nonsense jewish matriarch inspired by her grandmother.

Tracy-Ann and I zoomed during a break in rehearsals to talk about the matriarchs that shaped her, refusing to be put in a box, standing up to anti-semitism, making your own opportunities as you get older, in praise of “pushy”, the importance of “putting your face on” and the power of older women in amazing shoes.

This episode was recorded before the Hamas attack on 7 October 2023.

If you enjoyed this episode you might also like my conversations with Minnie Driver and Sheila Hancock. For more info on the Merchant of Venice 1936 tour dates visit The Merchant of Venice 1936.

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