Now that almost two decades have passed since a tiny, bespectacled Daniel Radcliffe looked up at CGI Hogwarts for the very first time, Stabl has teamed up with actors James and Oliver Phelps (aka Fred and George Weasley) to launch a very special podcast series.
Normal Not Normal explores how starring in the Harry Potter films at an early age turned James’ and Oliver’s ‘normal’ lives extraordinary.
As with many people of my generation, Harry Potter has formed a sort of backdrop to my life. The first book was released in 1998 when I was eight, and I have devoured the books and films ever since, right up until the last film was released in 2011. When we started this project the child inside me was beyond excited to get a glimpse behind the scenes of the Harry Potter world, and has not been disappointed.
In each episode the identical twins talk to an inspirational friend, colleague or personal hero whose life changed when they stepped into the limelight, and asks what ‘normal’ means to them.
Before I met James and Oliver, I didn’t really know what to expect. In this industry we’ve all worked with… difficult talent. But just ten minutes into our first meeting (online due to the pandemic, alas) I realised that there was not a trace of diva in either of them. Since then (and I hope James and Ollie agree with me here) we’ve grown into a strong team, and we have had a lot of fun on the way.
James and Ollie had already released two seasons of the podcast under a different name when we started making Normal Not Normal, so I knew they were going to be professionals, but what I’ve enjoyed most about the production process has been working together to create a series that digs a little deeper, and pushes the envelope a little further. We developed the concept of the podcast together, giving the series a focus, and a question to interrogate. This has allowed the conversations to push beyond small talk into more sensitive areas of discussion – mental health, childhood memories, ambition, even the meaning of life itself.
It’s been a pleasure to watch James and Ollie create relationships with their guests, even when recording remotely, and ultimately produce a series that is captivating, refreshing and entertaining. We have our disagreements, of course: James and Ollie might like to chat golf a little more than I would recommend (sorry guys), while I sometimes need to be reminded of the Phelps’ podcast rules: no religion, no politics. But I think it’s a necessary push and pull. The most important thing is that we give James and Oliver’s millions of followers what they want.
One of the greatest pleasures has been building a phenomenal guest list, with Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire actor Mara Wilson, Great British Bake Off queen Nadiya Hussain, superstar wrestler and Mandelorian actor Sasha Banks, Harry Potter producer Paula DuPré Pesmen, rugby player James Haskell, eco-activist Severn Cullis Suzuki, Umbrella Academy actor Tom Hopper, plenty of Harry Potter co-stars and many more I’m not allowed to mention yet (although ask me privately and I might spill the beans).
So if you’re an old Potterhead like me, subscribe to Normal Not Normal and prepare for frank mental health chat, Harry Potter revelations and the odd sibling squabble.
You can listen to Normal Not Normal here