Harry Potter film may be made elsewhere as actor's parents worry about Prague's seedy side


There was great excitement when it was announced that the fifth in the blockbuster Harry Potter film series - the Order of the Phoenix - was going to be filmed here in Prague. But there have been reports this week that the parents of Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the main role, don't want him to film in the Czech capital. The reason: the city's reputation as a seedy centre of the international sex industry.

Daniel Radcliffe turns 16 next month, and his parents have reportedly told the producers of the Harry Potter series that they don't want him to spend time in the Czech capital; they're evidently worried he might come into contact with what they describe as the city's wild night life and growing sex industry.

Prague's Barrandov studios, where the film was due to be made, say the decision to film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix elsewhere has not been confirmed.

If it is confirmed that will be bad news for Czech fans of the series (publishers say 800,000 Harry Potter books have been sold in this country, which has a population of 10 million). And it would of course mean Barrandov would lose a lot of money.

Many films have been made or partly made in the Czech Republic in recent years. One of the best known is the first Mission Impossible, though it isn't all blockbusters: many TV series and advertisements are also shot here.

Between the wars Barrandov was one of Europe's biggest studios, and the Czech film industry has maintained a reputation for high technical standards.

There have been reports in recent years that Prague could price itself out of the market and lose out to places like Romania, but it seems the Czech film industry is still able to compete, largely thanks to those high standards.

The next James Bond film is due to filmed here, and I would imagine whoever is chosen as the new Bond will be mature enough to resist some of the more dubious charms of Prague's nightlife.

The perception that the city is a centre for cheap prostitution is particularly strong in the United Kingdom, with dozens of British stag groups to be seen every weekend.

There was talk a few years ago of creating a red light district in Prague. That didn't happen, but one or two streets near the top of Wenceslas Square have become a de facto red light district.

It is now illegal to hand out flyers advertising brothels, but it is impossible to walk down Wenceslas Square at night without seeing some evidence of the sex trade.