COVID-19: Watching Harry Potter together - separately

As Australians are ordered to take social distancing seriously, Sydney radio station encourages simultaneous watching of Harry Potter from isolation.

Alycia rarely uses social media, but as a university student, housebound since the announcement of a nationwide non-essential services shutdown, she decided to open up her Facebook. She was bored at home before her mum suggested she look at Sydney’s 2DayFM’s Harry Potter isolation watch party.

Dubbed ‘Entire World Watching Harry Potter at Same Time in Isolation’, Alycia told The Feed, “It's nice having events to look forward to, so even something as simple as a movie night is exciting and makes self isolation better.”

“I will most likely do all the movie nights,” she chuckled, “Not much else to do, and like I said any excuse for Harry Potter.” 

“We had about over 3000 people joining in, watching some Harry Potter”

2DayFM started their first showing of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone last Sunday, it came about on the group chat between colleagues Ellie Angel-Mobbs, a presenter at 2DayFM, and Zoe Panaretos, 2DayFM’s Digital Lead.

“We're both obsessed with Harry Potter and we were chatting on our little group chat. We thought let's do an isolation party,” Angel-Mobbs told The Feed.

“We had about over 3000 people joining in, watching some Harry Potter and just taking our mind off everything going on in the world.” 

2DayFM started their first showing of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone last Sunday, it came about on the group chat between colleagues Ellie Angel-Mobbs, a presenter at 2DayFM, and Zoe Panaretos, 2DayFM’s Digital Lead.

“We're both obsessed with Harry Potter and we were chatting on our little group chat. We thought let's do an isolation party,” Angel-Mobbs said.

“We had about over 3000 people joining in, watching some Harry Potter and just taking our mind off everything going on in the world.”

The plan is to watch every movie in the Harry Potter series week to week, the second viewing is scheduled for this coming Friday night. Rather than a tech-led watch party, it’s BYO version, with participants encouraged to watch their own copy at the same time. 

Angel-Mobbs has a back-up just in case the isolation goes on longer than the series. “The other ones we've been throwing about were some fun 90s and 00s old school movies,” she said. 

“We've thought about putting Clueless on and the other one is Mean Girls because of course everyone can quote from Mean Girls.”

“It's really taking their mind off everything as well and getting them to be creative again, and sort of bringing back that little bit of magic that Harry Potter has”

Parents finding things to do to keep their small children occupied has been difficult, especially for Vanessa Harding. She lives in Melbourne’s outer east, her small businesses with husband Chris are closing, and her boys aren’t in school anymore.

“Because, man, I've got three kids, my husband, and we're all stuck at home,” she told The Feed.

“We’ve got two small businesses that are coming to a standstill and the kids are off school now. 

“And they're feeling pretty crap about it, and what better to do than watch Harry Potter from start to finish.”

The movie on Sunday night helped to ease not only her anxieties but her children as well. She says before they didn’t want to do anything. It was a struggle to try and get her boys to work together, and not be bored. 

“We're only a couple of days in, and it's going to be potentially six months of this. I don't want to push schooling them at home straightaway, because they've got to have fun,” she said.

“Kids don't cope as well with changes as we sort of expect them to, they still feel that, that anxiety and they're still feeling that fear of the unknown.”

Harry Potter
On the left is Lewis Harding aged 8 and on the right is Hugo Harding aged 6.
Vanessa Harding

Harry Potter night is now reserved in the Harding household, Vanessa says “the whole family is sort of coming together.” It’s even inspired her once “bored” sons to get creative.

“Since watching the first movie, and me telling them that this is something we do every week,” she said.

“They've gone into the bedroom and they're pulling out Lego and other bits and pieces, and they're playing Harry Potter. 

“It's really taking their mind off everything as well and getting them to be creative again, and sort of bringing back that little bit of magic that Harry Potter has.”

--

Australians must stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people. Indoors, there must be a density of no more than one person per four square metres of floor space.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.