IT IS the clearest sign yet that the last in the Harry Potter series of novels will not end happily. The author JK Rowling is seen in a forthcoming TV documentary looking over the just-finished version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on her laptop. She declares: "Yeah, think I've finished."
As an off-camera film-maker offers his congratulations, Rowling, 41, says: "Thank you...yeah, you don't know, it might be rubbish. Some people will loathe it, they will absolutely loathe it. For some people to love it, other people must loathe it. That's just in the nature of the plot."
She adds, "I'm actually really, really happy with it", before bowing her head on the keyboard to exclaim: "Oh my God!"
The remarkable footage is from ITV's documentary A Year in the Life...JK Rowling which it says has been made with "unprecedented" behind-the-scenes access.
Excerpts released at STV's scheduled launch in Glasgow yesterday might add fuel to the conspiracy theory gripping Potter fans across the globe - that the boy wizard Harry dies at the end of the seventh and final novel. The rumour mill has gone into frenzied overdrive in the run-up to the worldwide release of the last Potter novel on 21 July.
Rowling has remained enigmatic about the fate of the character who first appeared ten years ago in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. However, she has also done little to dampen speculation that dark clouds are gathering over her bespectacled hero. In a recent interview, the Edinburgh writer - who was filmed finishing the last book in room 652 of the city's Balmoral Hotel - confessed she "sobbed her heart out" and downed a half bottle of champagne in one after penning the final words.
If tragedy is looming, it may well be the climax of the eternal fight between good and evil. In the documentary, Rowling describes her works as "profoundly moral", adding: "I think it is a lie to pretend that even children of 11 don't have to make moral decisions. I think it's an outrageous black lie."
The last novel in the Potter series is virtually guaranteed to become the fastest selling book in history. The publisher, Bloomsbury, is thought to have delayed final printing until the last moment possible to minimise the chances of it leaking, and the documentary follows the completed manuscript's delivery in a locked suitcase to Rowling's agent at Heathrow Airport.
It also emerges that Castle Duart on Mull is one of the real-life locations that inspired parts of the Potter saga.
Potter fans across the country yesterday had the chance to catch preview screenings of the latest film in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Glasgow's Cineol cinema showed it no fewer than 22 times
and nearly all showings were either sold out or had only "limited availability".
Many critics have praised the film as the strongest of the series, and on the whole those watching in Glasgow agreed.
Rona Scott, 19, from Airdrie, said: "As we were sitting watching it, I thought 'this has to be the best one yet'. It remained pretty true to the basic plot of the books."
Martin McLeay, from Glasgow, said: "It's a lot darker than the others. There are very few laughs in it and you could see the characters were getting older. But we all enjoyed it."
IS THIS THE OPENING OF THE FINAL NOVEL?
A PRINTED manuscript in the documentary trailer shows what appears to be the opening sentence of the last novel.
When it was written is unclear; a note written in pen on the manuscript refers to a version saved on computer dated 23 October, 2006.
However, JK Rowling reportedly worked on the final draft up until January this year. Some scenes in the book are thought to have been planned by Rowling more than a decade ago.
MAGIC AT THE BOX OFFICE
HARRY Potter and the Order of the Phoenix netted magical box-office takings of just over 36 million on its first night of release.
In the United States alone, eager fans bought 22 million worth of tickets as thousands flocked to special midnight screenings yesterday.
The figures smashed the previous record for a Wednesday night opening in the US, which was held by Spider-Man 2, released in 2004.
The Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book was published on 21 June, 2003, and that day it sold almost seven million copies in Britain and the US.
The first four Potter films, starting with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone have generated 1.7 billion in worldwide ticket sales for Warner Bros.