The boy wizard is back! And what a slick, heartfelt rush of nostalgia this reunion is, with secrets spilled and crushes revealed – but there’s also a conspicuous absence at its heart

The John Williams score plays (with added bells for the festive season), the camera soars above an ersatz Victorian street, wax-sealed letters appear – and just like that, anyone who came of reading or viewing age from 1997 onwards is home. The Harry Potter reunion special Return to Hogwarts, marking 20 years since the first film adaptation of JK Rowling’s gamechanging and multi-multi-million-selling fantasy series about the boy wizard was released, hews as closely to the original’s aesthetic as possible from the off.

Chats among the three main stars, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry himself), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), take place in the Gryffindor common room, there’s an opening set piece in the Hogwarts dining hall, Radcliffe and director of the first two films, Chris Columbus, talk in Dumbledore’s office and so on. It provides a rush of nostalgia only heightened as the enduring affection among them all becomes evident. There is much – rising perilously if perhaps inevitably close to emetic levels – of the cast and crew being like a family. There always is in programmes like this, but at least here it is more than usually justified. The actors famously began working on the franchise when they were children, and their audience grew up alongside them pretty much in real time as the films were released between 2001 and 2011.

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