Saturday 9th March,
Despite having read the books at an early age I hadn’t been an active fan of Harry Potter for years. Therefore I was worried I wouldn’t find the tour as interesting as I wanted it to be. I was impressed by the look of the films so I hoped that there would be in depth information about the production design rather than the usual stale collection of memorabilia.
The start to the tour was a little uncomfortable, with the guides trying to encourage audience interaction in order to raise excitement. This only really served to increase our impatience to be inside. We were led into a room with a small cinema screen and shown a filmed introduction to the tour by the three most recognisable leads of the series. The screen then rose to reveal the very doors the actors left through – the doors to the Great Hall.
The set of the Great Hall was smaller than it seemed in the film but so full of fantastic details that it more than made up for the scale. Real flagstones lined the floor on which sat the heavy wooden benches of each house. The walls were convincing textured flats with markings on the ‘stone’ that is barely noticeable in the films but still beautifully hand-painted onto the surface.
After the Great Hall the tour was unguided. We walked into the rest of the large sound stage that was full of props, scale models and even some other full size sets.
Above is the set of the Gryffindor Common Room, which included the wonderfully elaborate tapestry and portraits, including a painting of Professor McGonagall as a young woman. The set took almost three months to fully complete.
All the props on display in the tour were impressively detailed and well made. The centre picture below is a cabinet containing all of the Horcruxes, another with the Philosopher’s stone
Below are some of my favourite fullsize sets.
This was the scale used with Hagrid’s size double, a smaller scale copy of the set was sometimes used to make Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) look the appropriate size.
The set for the potions classroom was one of the larger sets, although despite the size, the walls were still lined with jars of strange ingredients. I would have loved to have had a closer look at the jars, which were apparently filled with plastic animals from Regent’s Park Zoo and baked bones from a butcher’s shop.
Dumbledore’s office set was particularly interesting, it was lit with a strong blue light and full of portraits of mostly sleeping wizards.
I took over 200 photos on the studio tour so I have decided to split the post into the props and full size sets for this post and scale models and technical drawings for the next.