WHEN Harry Potter wanted to learn magic, he did not go to Hogwarts School: that is, after all, a fictional place. No, he went to see the top man, Paul Kieve.
Kieve is the man behind some of the great stage illusions, many of which will be seen in Scrooge, the musical which opens for a Christmas season at the Liverpool Empire next week.
So when Mexican film director Alfonso Cuaron, the man behind the new Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, decided he wanted real magic in the movie he called in Kieve.
"It was quite a curious thing," says Kieve. "I have spent my life developing live illusions and this was a film on which millions were being spent, a lot of it on computerised effects.
"But Alfonso was keen to have live magic as well as the computer effects to layer things to create a more magical world." Kieve was asked to give a two hour demonstration to the film's Oscar-winning designer and the American producers showing just what he could achieve. "It was a bit nerve-wracking," he admits.
But the film people were so impressed that not only will Kieve's magic effects be an important element in the film, but he will be appearing in a small role himself - as a wizard.
One of the first things he had to do was to hold a magic school on the set for all the youngsters taking part to assess what skills they might possess.
"The strange thing was that Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry was the only person who did not have to attend the magic school and he was upset that everyone had learned magic apart from him."
So Kieve agreed to take him on as a private pupil. "Now he has taken it up as a hobby. It's really incidental to the film but he has become rather good and has been practising hard. We meet up on his days away from the set and we spend two or three hours doing magic.
"Like any other 14-year-old, he has been bitten by the bug. When the producers took him for a Chinese meal, he was doing magic at the table."
Londoner Paul Kieve was bitten by the bug at the age of ten when he had a box of magic tricks on his birthday. "There was a Canadian magician called Doug Henning doing magic specials on the television and I recorded them and tried to duplicate his illusions using cardboard boxes from the supermarket.