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“J.K. Rowling, A Year in the Life” airs in the UK, available online


On the whole, the show was lovely, although unlike the famous BBC “Harry Potter and Me” show (Part1 | Part2 | Part3 | Part4 | Part5), there is little new canon.

I think the title is a misnomer. Rather than being entirely about “a year,” we get a nice look at Jo’s roots with highlights of events from 2007. Among these are the moment she finishes Deathly Hallows (January 11), the hand off of the manuscript to her agent, a meeting of the worldwide publishers, footage of the book being printed, the OotP film premiere, the book launch at the Natural History Museum (and bits from world launches), at home baking in her kitchen for her son David’s birthday, and at a planning session for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park.

Other highlights:

  • it is lovely to see Jo with her sister Di joking about old photographs,
  • a stronger sense of place for towns where Jo spent her childhood,
  • she is franker than I can remember about her relationship with her father,
  • watching Jo draw the family trees of Harry and his friends,
  • the wrenching scene in her old flat in Leith.

What were your favorite bits, or observations?

Update: There is an official video online now for everyone to view! Thanks Bander!


Pensieve (Comments)

  • Clock_maker

    Too bad theres not much new canon. Will it ever come out world wide or will it just stay in UK. I want it here in NZ

  • Sue

    I never saw JK without make-up before! Her dry and witty sense of humour comes forward through the whole documentary, lovely! And I’d like to have her recepy for chocolate (fudge?) cake!

  • What does she say when James is asking her: “What’s your principal defect?” (at the very beginning)
    And WOW @ her house. I want to live there too.

  • roonwit

    Her pricipal defect is a “short fuse”.

  • Xammer

    So what is the new canon information?

  • Lexicon Lisa

    The new canon is the family tree she draws that gives the full names of all of Molly & Arthur’s grandchildren, as well as Harry’s, Draco’s and Luna’s kids. We are presuming that they are in birth order (L->R) so this also gives us information about oldest, youngest, etc. The other new information is that the Battle of Hogwarts took place on May 2nd.

  • Bandersnatch

    FYI, as far as I can see, the URL for the documentary ends in 15050, not 14856. The latter just loads and loads for minutes and I don’t know if it ever gets underway, but the former works immediately.

  • Kristin

    Thank you SO much for that tip Bandersnatch!!

  • RCT

    Hmm, does Jo definitely say that Victoire was born on the ONE YEAR anniversary of the battle of Hogwarts? If so, that means there’s a mistake in the Epilouge as Victoire would have left Hogwarts by the time Albus started.

  • No she just said “on the anniversary”. Victoire would have been born on the second anniversary at the earliest to still be attending Hogwarts 19 years later.

  • BB

    There was an intriguing moment when she was flicking through the church’s Visitors’ Book (?), and found a name she had appropriated for a bad character. Love to know who that was, especially as my fiancee has family in that part of the world…

  • christina

    where can i find the whole documentary online?

  • hpboy13

    Argh, this family tree just destroyed half of my fanfics!! Oh well, I guess I’ll have to alter my fanfics, since I see no hope of Jo altering the family trees anytime soon!

  • Jules

    I was gonna mention this too. It should be easy to find out since we know which church it is in ans which page it is on. the name should be easy to spot by somone very familiar with the books

    “There was an intriguing moment when she was flicking through the church’s Visitors’ Book (?), and found a name she had appropriated for a bad character. Love to know who that was, especially as my fiancee has family in that part of the world…”

  • KatieBell

    Loved it except the family tree. I wanted George to marry Katie Bell, oh well theres always Oliver Wood.

  • ascatal

    yah i am sure the new family tree has thrown a monkey wrench in many a Hp fan fic and roleplay but all we can do is grin and bear it and get on with it! JKR and harry potter rule!

  • But the tree is wrong. Fred died in 1998 and not 1997, didn’t he????? Otherwise the cake of Nick’s death day party was wrong. Well anyway, SOMEthing must be wrong.

  • Timbo

    I thought that the battle took place in 98, rather than 97. Doesn’t that mean that Fred’s date of death is wrong?

  • Regarding Fred’s date of death on the hand-drawn tree. I’m beginning to think that Jo’s next announcement is that time just runs differently in her Wizarding world, and that we shouldn’t expect Potter years to match our years. On the other thread someone suggested that Jo thinks of Book 1 as ’91, Book 2 as ’92 and so on. I dunno.

    If you were to quiz me about a year, I would really have to think about it. Still. After 5 years in fandom. It isn’t something that is easy for me to do off the cuff; I have to diagram it out.

  • Jane Bennet

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

  • Bandersnatch

    LOL, I assume you’re being facetious, Lisa, with time running differently in the Potterverse. Jo simply made a mistake. An easy enough thing to do, especially when you have a camera on you. But Jo set the timeline in stone — literally — with James’s and Lily’s gravestone (plus the fact that there are ten years between PS1 and PS2), so that’s that.

  • Yes, I guess I should have added a smiley or something =)

  • Banderspock

    Ohhhhhh… this is that thing you humans call sarcasm, isn’t it? 😀

  • Jo should have set the series in Australia (or any country in the southern hemisphere). That way a school year follows the calendar year. LOL

  • Bandersnatch

    Wait a minute, I’ve got it! It’s all so simple!

    Here is what happened. Sometime during Harry’s sixth year, an Unspeakable in the Department of Mysteries named Tempus Fudgit took the last remaining Time Turner in the world, and turned it over 8,760 times. This catapulted the entire Earth and everyone on it back in time by a year!

    So it really was 1996 when Dumbledore died, and Fred’s death was on 2 May, 1997! Jo was right after all! Hooray!


  • Bandersnatch

    Alternatively, at the end of 1996 (halfway through HBP), the International Confederation of Wizards decided that 1996 was an utter failure of a year, and gosh darnit, everyone in the world was just going to have to do it over again and get it right! So they decreed by magical fiat that there would simply be two 1996s in a row. It was all reported in the Quibbler:

    ICW Declares Worldwide Do-Over: “For Merlin’s Sake, Let’s FOCUS This Time, People!”

  • OMG. That’s too funny. Perfect!

  • *dies laughing*
    Bander! What an hilarious way to start the new year. Thanks for the chuckle!

  • Katy

    Um, I’m not quite sure if this is the right place to post this, but your link to pt 4 of the “Harry & Me” special links to pt 1. Just thought you ought to know. Oops, I just quoted Quirell. 🙂

  • Ajoxy

    I love the new canon on the family tree, but I saw George married and had children with Angelina. Could this be Angelina Johnson, the fellow Gryffindor?

  • hpboy13

    I loved that Bandersnatch! I’m going with the second one. Plus, it helps me put my conscience at ease when I’m wriitng the date on school papers and then realize the date I put was one year ago!

  • Bandersnatch

    Yes, Ajoxy, it is indeed Angelina Johnson, Fred’s ex.

  • Taj

    While everybody’s having fun watching the documentary, my internet keeps quitting every time I try to access the ITV website!!! Blah!! I need to see this, or I am going to be sending a Howler to…well, somebody, I just don’t know who

  • Rhona

    Rn and hermione are the godparrents of James Sirius. She told that on the interview. Thought you’d like to know

  • Sarah Ross

    I really loved the part with Neil, who’s never really been spoken to before, so far as I know.

  • Firebird

    It’d be much more appreciated if you posted a link that isn’t exclusive to the UK. I live in Australia, and the site is barring access.

  • Firebird, to my knowledge this is the only link. Other links sprang up earlier this month, but they were unauthorized and to my knowledge have all been shut down. I don’t know if it would do any good, but you might write ITV and/or TV Catchup to request that they be less restrictive.

  • kamion

    I am watching the BBC video “Harry Potter and me” and it strikes me that in nr.2 the famous “unheated” flat is shown. JKR really delighted how that improved over the years since she left it.
    Now in ” A year in the life” from ITV there is also show a flat, where much of the first book was written and JKR gets complete emotional about it….. only it’s a complete diffferent flat
    and actually not that bad living, it’s even bigger then mine.

    Now I am just wondering:
    ” Are there more flats involved during the “penniless mother period?”
    ” Why get emotinal about the better one?”
    ” Are the tears not staged?”

    are you surprised I get a bit suspicious

  • I didn’t look all that closely but I thought it was the same flat with different furniture. What caught my attention was the claim that she had never been back to the flat before. I just thought “Oh well, it sounds great.”

    I suppose there could be two flats but to my recollection the articles/biographies only talk about one.

  • elena

    On JK’s official website Harry’s year of birth is 1980 which means the battle took place in 1997 since Harry was seventeen at the time.

  • Bandersnatch

    Afraid not, Elena. He was born in July of 1980, and turned 17 in July of 1997 (at the Burrow at the beginning of DH) — but the Battle of Hogwarts took place the following May, so it was in 1998. (Harry was still 17 at the time.)

  • Bandersnatch

    That should have been 1997 in my last post, not 1987, obviously.