The Three Simple Words Stephen Fry Couldn’t Say While Recording the Harry Potter Audiobooks

Mike Marsland/Getty Images for SeriousFun
Mike Marsland/Getty Images for SeriousFun / Mike Marsland/Getty Images for SeriousFun

Many fans would argue that the Harry Potter series is one of the best in children’s book history, without much to criticize. But Stephen Fry, the man who narrated all 11 audiobooks, does have one specific line he would change which has appeared throughout the books, and that’s because he couldn’t say it.

Speaking at HayFestival, Fry told a hilarious story about his time recording the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban audiobook. He revealed that while he’s pretty skilled at reading aloud without mistakes, there were three words that tripped him up. The line “Harry pocketed it” just couldn’t be said without him stuttering. Even when recalling the instance, the comedian still couldn’t say the words correctly.

“You see I can say ‘Harry,’ and I can say ‘pocketed,’ and I can say ‘it.’ But I can’t say ‘Harry pocketed it,’” Fry explained.

After trying to say it many times for the recording, Fry asked if they could come back to the line later. This ended up resulting in a call to J.K. Rowling.

“So I called her up and said, ‘Look, do you mind, I can’t say ‘Harry pocketed-ed it.’ Would it be okay if I said ‘Harry put it in his pocket?’ There was a big pause at the end of the line, then she said, ‘No’ in her best witch’s voice. I could hear her smile as she said it,” Fry remembered.

Fry concluded by recalling that after the phone call, Rowling purposefully wrote the three words into the Harry Potter books to come.

With all of the other complex words and phrases throughout the books, such as “Animagus” and “Cruciatus,” it's hard to believe that Fry had a hard time saying something as minor as “Harry pocketed it.” But we’re happy Rowling got to have some fun, and now we’ll be listening for Fry’s pronunciation next time we’re in the mood to listen to some Harry Potter.