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Tracy-Ann Oberman: If I Ruled The World

Tracy-Ann Oberman: If I Ruled The World

From the Royal Shakespeare Company to Friday Night Dinner, Tracy-Ann Oberman’s career spans stage, radio and television. She shares her vision of an ideal world

Food would be limited on public transport

I would ban oranges, chips and burgers from public transport. On buses, trains and enclosed environments, no one will be allowed to peel an orange or eat chips or burgers. I don’t even mind an egg sandwich, but it’s chips, oranges and burgers that smell in enclosed spaces.

I travel a lot for work, and particularly on trains somebody will come in and open their chips and your heart just sinks. And oranges just linger! Nice if you’re eating them but horrible for anyone else. 

More age-appropriate love interests

Men on screen would have to have love interests their own age. Men would have to be paired up with women their age, or ten years older or younger. I always remember the Golden Globes in 2014 when Tina Fey joked that the film Gravity was “the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.” That made me laugh so hard.

I think the rule should be that on the whole men are paired with a love interest their age, or no more than a ten-year age gap either side. Sometimes you see a pairing and you think, wow, that man is old enough to be her grandfather.

Healthy chocolate would be developed

We would develop chocolate that is good for your health. We have all this amazing technology like the cloud, there must be a way of making chocolate that is actually good for you!

"We’ve got to find a way to make chocolate one of your five a day!"

That’s where the money should be going. Chocolate and cheese. I love old school dairy milk buttons, and Green and Black’s salted caramel chocolate. We’ve got to find a way to make them one of your five a day!

British civil rights history would be added to the curriculum

I would add British civil rights history to the school curriculum. For example, I would make the Battle of Cable Street part of the national curriculum. In 1936, in the East End of London, the British Union of Fascists led by Oswald Mosley marched against the Jewish working classes and they expected to bring all the other working class communities against them.

The Battle of Cable Street 1936

Plaque commemorating the Battle of Cable Street © Spudgun67, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Instead, they were faced with incredible solidarity among all the working class communities: the Irish, the Afro Caribbeans, the Dockers, they all stood by their Jewish neighbours and wouldn’t let the fascists pass. I would include more of these positive, uplifting civil rights moments in the curriculum, as well as Britain’s own fascination with fascism.

I was in a programme called Ridley Road which explored fascism in Britain in the 1960s. I think we tend to forget about this part of our history.

No Christmas decorations before December 3

I would make putting Christmas decorations out before December 3 illegal. Literally nothing to do with Christmas would be allowed until December 3, and then after New Year’s Eve it would be over. And you’re not allowed to mention Christmas outside of that time!

Bonfire Night would be the main event for autumn

I won’t criminalise Halloween, but I’ll hire a very strong media company to bring us back to Guy Fawkes Night and away from the consumerism of Halloween.

"Bonfire Night is a bit more us—a hot potato, a sparkler and fireworks in your neighbour’s garden"

It’s an American thing, God love them, but Bonfire Night is a bit more us—a hot potato, a sparkler and fireworks in your neighbour’s garden. Halloween is just about money and frightening older people. 

More neighbourhood street parties!

I would introduce two bank holidays a year for neighbourhood street parties. Everyone would have to get out of their houses and meet their neighbours.

Street party

In cities we tend to work hard and get entrenched in our own little worlds, and we don’t really know our neighbours. That feeling of community has gone. So we would have two designated days a year for street parties. Everyone would bring something to share with the community, even if it was just a jug of water.

More debate would be encouraged

We’re living in a world where social media has made the understanding of history, politics and truth itself incredibly binary. You’re either with us or against us, you’re either good or evil.

I would bring back the idea of nuance and the ability to debate, to read everything, to listen to somebody’s point of view and listen to the other side.  

Tracy-Ann Oberman stars in The Merchant of Venice 1936, playing Watford Palace theatre ( and HOME Manchester ( in March 2023, with further tour dates in the autumn

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