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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 19:22 GMT
Potter game proves a winner
Pupils at Newtown High School play Quidditch
Pupils were playing Quidditch long before the movie
A mid Wales drama teacher has been granted the right to market her own version of a game played by the fictional boy wizard, Harry Potter.

Elaine Currie - head of drama at Newtown High School - devised a netball-style version of the Quidditch game, as featured in the best-selling series of books by JK Rowling.

Scene from the Harry Potter movie
Harry Potter's fame was boosted by the movie

While Harry and his friends play the game on flying broomsticks, Mrs Currie's pupils play the game on a sports field.

She has begun contacting games companies in the hope of raising 100,000 to get the project off the ground.

The earth-bound version of Quidditch has been played at the mid Wales school for two years, long before the movie - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - was made.

The pupils use hoops, tennis rackets and two golden "snitches" hidden on players.

The idea has proved very popular, with hundreds of children taking part in a school tournament.

Mrs Currie said: "It was dreamed up as just a bit of fun over a bottle of beer with friends one evening.

"It took me four or five weeks to work out a set of rules which we could all play.

"It has proved very popular and very time consuming.

Elaine Currie plays Quidditch
Elaine Currie joins in the fun of the game

"We play seven-a-side teams, just like in the books, and the pupils dress up in the uniforms of the various school houses such as Slytherin and Gryffindor.

"It's great fun, anybody can play it, and because kids love Harry Potter, they love playing Quidditch."

She said the popularity of the game has also had a positive educational impact.

"Nobody is allowed to take part unless they've read the books, " she said.

"It has pushed many to read them for the first time."

Mrs Currie said she was amazed when Warner Brothers - who own the rights to Harry Potter - gave her permission to market the game commercially.

"I sent Warner Bros a copy of my rules and they replied saying they get hundreds of similar letters all the time and never normally reply to them."

The Hollywood film studio has been very protective of the Harry Potter brand, closing down a number of unofficial websites produced by fans.

Boy dressing for Quidditch at Newtown, mid Wales
The pupils enjoy dressing up to play Quidditch

The company also refused to let a railway museum in Lancashire exhibit the train which appeared in the Harry Potter movie as the Hogwarts Express.

In December, a Russian newspaper reported that fans in Moscow had also developed a version of Quidditch.

In their game, the flying broomsticks were replaced by people carrying the players on their shoulders.

The Harry Potter phenomenon began with a series of books by British author JK Rowling, which are now being adapted for the cinema screen.

The movie version of the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was an immediate success following its release in November 2001.

It overtook Star Wars Episode 1 to be come the second most successful film of all time, behind Titanic.

A second Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is due to be released in November 2002.

More films are likely to follow, with analysts predicting that the Harry Potter series could be worth as much as $10bn (7bn).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Steve Jones
"These youngsters think earth-bound Quidditch is magic"
See also:

11 Jul 00 | Wales
Broomstick fun for Potter fans
13 Dec 01 | Wales
Harry Potter fan's website row
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