I do Harry Potter walks in London. The best bit about doing my tours are the amazing people that come on them.
My Harry Potter walks attract both adults and children, some with a general interest in Harry Potter and some which are true Potterheads – the eclectic mix of people make each walk truly unique.
Here are five fab questions I have been asked on my Harry Potter’s London walk:
Question 1: What is the name of the Defence Against the Dark Arts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone?
Answer: Professor Quirinus Quirrell
J.K. Rowling put a lot of effort into names of fantastic beasts, potions and their ingredients and into people’s names, often linking two words together, both having particular significance. With Professor Quirrell, the key to his true character is his first name, Quirinus. Quirinus was a war god of ancient Rome and was associated with Jupiter (a god of the sky and protector of the people) and Mars (god of war). It was Quirrell who went to track Voldemort down thinking he could handle an encounter with the dark wizard in his weakened state, so that resonates with Jupiter. Quirrell naively underestimated Voldemort and was unable to defend himself and Voldemort’s possession of him. He embodies Voldemort, becoming a force for dark magic, resonating perhaps with Mars. Quirinal Hill (Quirinalis, Quirinale) is one of the seven hills of ancient Rome and also sounds very similar to squirrel which is the physical qualities the actor Ian Hart seems to adopt when he first meets Harry Potter in the Leaky Cauldron.
Question 2: What do NEWTs stand for?
Answer: Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests
I must admit this had me stumped for a moment. It was one of those occasions that for a millisecond the answer whizzes through my head and fails to exit via my mouth.
O.W.L.s are explained by Professor Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Ordinary Wizarding Levels are exams for all fifth year students at Hogwarts. They could be equated to G.C.S.Es. Harry, Ron and Hermione take their O.W.L.s during the Order of the Phoenix. It is also during this year each fifth year student discusses his/her career path with Professor McGonagall.
Passing Grades: O (outstanding), E (Exceeds Expectations) and A (Acceptable)
N.E.W.T. level is the highest level offered to final year students at Hogwarts. The level is indicated in the name “Nastily Exhausting” and could be equated to A-levels as they test what a student has learned over the last 2 years, after taking their O.W.L.s.
Did you know that out of the famous trio, it was only Hermione who went back to school and took her N.E.W.T.s, thus completing her education?
Question 3: Was Hagrid really that big?
Answer: Yes and no
There are two Hagrids don’t forget; Robbie Coltrane, the actor and his half-giant body double. In the books Hagrid is described as being twice as tall as the average man and nearly five times as wide. In the film Harry Potter and the Order if the Phoenix fits the frame for a 6’10” body double. The lovely Martin Bayfield, former England Rugby Union player was used as Robbie Coltrane’s body double. The head which Martin Mayfield wears when being the body double is air cooled and has animated eyes and mouth. The body part has rubber tubing wrapped around into which cool water is pumped.
Filmmakers relied on clever tricks of the trade to make Hagrid appear larger than the other characters. This included making two versions of the set. A large scale set was used to make regular sized characters seem small (think Hermione in the Philosopher’s Stone sitting in the leather arm chair discussing enchantments and spells protecting the stone and her feet dangling over the edge). A smaller set was used to make Robbie Coltrane seem large.
Rubeus Hagrid is introduced to us in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts and, later, as Hogwart’s Care of Magical Creatures teacher. Inside Hagrid’s hut set decorators filled the hit with animal cages, housing various animals including hairless cats, fruit bats and ostrich eggs, all nicely tying in with his profession.
Did you know that Martin Mayfield played the young Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? This is the only time you see Hagrid’s face when is not Robbie Coltrane’s.
Warner Bros. film effects team customised seven versions of Hagrid’s Motorbike, a 1960 Enfield. Each had a larger seat to fit the half-giant Hagrid.
Question 4: How do I know which Hogwarts house I would be in?
When a first year at Hogwarts is sorted into a house (via the sorting hat), it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you. Is that really a good thing?
- Gryffindor House values: bravery, daring, nerve, and chivalry
- Hufflepuff House values: hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play
- Ravenclaw House values intelligence, knowledge, and wit
- Slytherin House values: ambition, cunning and resourcefulness
What values do you think you possess?
Pottermore is a great resource for many of your Harry Potter themed questions. After creating a profile you can then attend The Sorting Ceremony where you will be sorted into your Hogwarts house – visit Pottermore
Question 5: How do I know what my Patronus would be?
Professor Lupin tells us “The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the Dementor feeds upon – hope, happiness, the desire to survive…”
Pottermore has a new Patronus experience which is well worth a go as the animation and effects in themselves are wonderful. Visit Pottermore and find out what your Patronus would be – bet you can’t guess mine! If you would like to know more about fantastic beasts then you will like my blog post Fantastic Beasts – Where to Find Them in London
Making my walks fun, engaging and informative is at the heart of every walk I do. So many times people have told me that they have been able to remember stories from my tours because of just that, they are stories. Facts don’t need to be delivered as if reciting them from a text book. Guided walks evoke a powerful combination of factual stories being delivered in a place where the history was made – pure magic.
Now, some guides would say that if people need to ask a question then you are not doing a good enough job in relating that story. I would say that depends on the question. If the question is for clarification then yes totally, but success is when what you have said promotes further discussion and questions.
You can find out more about Harry Potter’s London and the films on my Harry Potter’s London walks:
- Harry Potter: Whitehall to West End
- Harry Potter: Southwark to the City
- Fantastic Beasts – where to find them in London
It would be great to see you!
- Buy your The making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour
- Fantastic Beasts – Where to Find Them in London
- Five Fantastic Questions I get asked on my Harry Potter walks
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