We're all going potty about Harry

SO the waiting is almost over and that young fictional hero is set to wave his wand one more time – Harry Potter is back!When the schoolboy star first made his way on to the bookshelves of Britain, the youngster quickly won the nation's heart.

By Debbie Watson

SO the waiting is almost over and that young fictional hero is set to wave his wand one more time – Harry Potter is back!

When the schoolboy star first made his way on to the bookshelves of Britain, the youngster quickly won the nation's heart.

On the back of his stories came the film and on the back of that thousands of pieces of themed merchandise to drive childhood fans crazy with the desire to be the greatest Potter enthusiast.

Now, almost a year to the day since the Philosopher's Stone arrived in UK cinemas, Harry star Daniel Radcliffe is back to cast a spell over the world's filmgoers all over again.

The curious thing about the Potter fanaticism is that, not unlike the Disney hits of old, this child-targeted movie has unquestionably captured the passion and enthusiasm of adults too.

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Yes, they went to see the film with their children, and yes, they bought the books for their youngsters too. However, the vast majority then became the most unlikely fans themselves.

They bought the follow-up books, ordered the video and have spent the last few weeks anxiously awaiting the new release.

Somersham's Cliff Foulkes-Flint is one such fan.

At 55, and hardly the core age group intended to be priority Potter film fanatics, he confessed to being a massive enthusiast.

"I think Harry Potter is incredible. You can be a permanent child with his stories and I think that's just great.

"It's perfect escapism from all the depressing news and events that we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis."

Cliff had his first introduction to Harry after reading his daughter's copy of the original book. She's 18.

"I've always been a fanatical reader and in particular I loved reading magical and mystical tales," he said.

"I read my daughter's book and loved it, so when the film came out I was anxious to go and see it. I was enchanted by it.

"It was great filming and the costumes were all excellent, but more than anything it takes you back to being a child."

Not surprisingly, Cliff wasted no time in buying his own copy of the film.

"As soon as it came out I was desperate to get a copy. I think we've worn it out already."

The fascination with Harry has also brought with it great credibility for bespectacled youngsters.

Rather than being embarrassed about their schoolboy looks, some youngsters have been revelling in the fact that they actually share startling similarities with Harry Potter himself.

Grandmother Pamela Bean contacted The Evening Star to proudly tell us about her grandson's striking resemblance.

"He looks just like him," she said. "He wears glasses and I think he has a very similar face. Everyone agrees that he's a dead ringer."

It's easy to spot the similarities.

Thomas Bean, of Castle Road, Ipswich, is ten years old and has a cheeky glasses-clad face that could so easily be that of the Potter star.

It's a resemblance of which he is not so convinced.

"I don't think I look particularly like Harry really," he said. "All my family say I do and so do my friends, but I can't really see it.

"It doesn't bother me though," said the Springfield Junior School pupil.

"I'm a fan of Harry Potter anyway so it's not a problem.

"I'm going to see the film as soon as it comes out because I saw the first one and absolutely loved it."

Stefan Brill, who lives in Kelly Road, Ipswich, is also a dead ringer for the film character.

Aged 11 and often told by his friends and family about his likeness to Harry Potter, he's anxiously awaiting the new movie release.

Also 11, and equally like the young wizard in his looks, Matthew Cook also takes a lot of stick from his friends.

"They're always saying stuff about me looking like Harry Potter, but I just laugh it off with them. I tell them 'well, at least I'm the famous one'."

A pupil at Chantry High School, Matthew is also a fan of the Potter stories. He's read all the books and saw the first film as soon as it came out.

"I loved the first film so I'm looking forward to seeing the next one. Hopefully we'll get tickets to go to one of the first showings."

Such is Matthew's resemblance that, on a family holiday to America which

coincided with the first Potter release, his parents spent the entire time hiding him away because people were convinced he was the young British actor.

Apparently his accent and his glasses were enough to convince Americans that this was in fact the real Harry Potter.

Like so many children, Matthew has also been caught up in the craze and bought a lot of the Potter merchandise.

"I've got a Playstation Harry Potter game, some figures and the wizard craft games. I hope they bring out some more things to go with the new film too."

No doubt parents across Suffolk will be preparing themselves for the likelihood that toy manufacturers are doing exactly that.

Whatever form he chooses to make his way into the region's households, Harry Potter is certainly going to be a very important must-have for this year's Christmas wish-list.