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Hit & Run: So long Harry, hello Percy

Wannabe wizards worried about the magical-world vacuum to be left by the demise of the Harry Potter film franchise, the final movie of which is released in two parts in November and the following July (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in case you ask) should take heart. There's a new adolescent with special powers and bum-fluff on his upper lip in town.

His name's Percy Jackson. He appears in Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, which hit cinemas on Friday and tells the story of a 17-year-old who discovers he's related to a Hellenic god. Hailed as "the American Harry Potter" it appears Percy – who first appeared in a best-selling book series by Rick Riordan – is here to stay. The movie is directed by Chris Columbus, who directed the first two Harry Potters, which could explain similarities. Anyone in need of further help telling apart a half-blood prince (wrote a spellbook found by Harry) from a Camp Half-Blood (Percy's demi-god training facility) should pull on their wizardly half-moon glasses and peruse the following.


Harry: Discovers he is a wizard on his 11th birthday.

Percy: Discovers he is a demigod on his 12th birthday (17th for the film).


Harry: Wizards James and Lily Potter, whose murder at the hands of Lord Voldemort Harry witnessed as a child.

Percy: Sea god Poseidon and candy-shop worker Sally Jackson.


Harry: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Percy: Camp Half-blood, training camp for demi-gods.

Magical tools

Harry: Broomstick, wand, rapier-like wit as delivered by Daniel Radcliffe.

Percy: A magical pen that transforms into a sword called Riptide; shield, flying shoes.

Big mission

Harry: Thwarting Voldemort's quest for immortality; competing in the Triwizard intra-wizarding-school tournament; studying OWL-Levels.

Percy: Finding Zeus's lost bolt of lightning and not getting killed by monsters (Fury, Minotaur, Medusa).


Harry: The bookish Hermione Granger and cretinous Ron Weasley, among others.

Percy: Luke, the son of messenger god Hermes, and Annabeth, daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom.


Harry: Bad wizards Voldemort, Severus Snape (revealed to be good late in the series) and Lucius Malfoy

Percy: Minotaur (head of bull, body of man), Medusa (snakes for hair, turns you into stone with a look) and Hades, god of the underworld.

All-star cast

Harry: Alan Rickman (Snape), Maggie Smith (Professor Minerva McGonagall),Kenneth Branagh (Professor Gilderoy Lockhart).

Percy: Uma Thurman (Medusa), Sean Bean (Zeus), and Pierce Brosnan (Chiron).

Rob Sharp

Snow logo: the BBC gears up in luxury

The colour schemes have changed but one thing remains conspicuously constant about the gear worn by BBC presenters at the Winter Olympics – the distinctive "K" on their jackets. "K," if you don't know your Arc'teryx from your Eider, stands for Kjus, as in Norwegian ski hero, Lasse Kjus, and a skiwear brand he launched in 2000.

Kjus doesn't come cheap. Clare Balding's blue number, above, costs £780. Hit & Run has counted at least 10 Kjus outfits in Vancouver worth about £10,000 (including trousers). But fear not, licence-fee payers, a spokesperson for Snow+Rock, British stockists of Kjus, says jackets were provided free in a deal hatched "on a golf course."

Isn't this a bit like product placement? Guidelines say the BBC must avoid "giving the impression that we are promoting or endorsing products". Cameras must not "linger on brand names or logos." Kjus marketing man, Daniel Schaffo, says the BBC deal involved removing some logos – but not that special "K".

Last weekend, a BBC news chief told the Newswatch that the ubiquity of some brands in news coverage was a coincidence. Can this be said of Vancouver? A BBC spokesperson explains that presenters must be "properly equipped" for the job but one wonders if ex-Olympic skier, Graham Bell, really doesn't have his own jacket. But where would that leave Kjus? "When you sponsor an athlete you hope he wins," Schaffo says. "This is the best way to be part of the Olympics – you never lose." Simon Usborne

Now that's what He calls music

So, Pope Benedict XVI has picked up a nomination at the Classical Brits for his debut record Alma Mater – Music From The Vatican; if he shows up for the shindig in full regalia, he'll give Lady Gaga a run for her money in the fashion stakes. In December the Vatican posted a playlist on Myspace ( bit.ly/6zuKFJ ) placing songs from the record with favourite tunes by others – the unlikely mix included tracks by Muse and Fleet Foxes, as well as 2pac's "Changes". Then, on Sunday the Holy See's newspaper L'Osservator Romano offered a primer of 10 essential albums. The list, which included efforts by The Beatles, Oasis and Santana, might surprise a few, but the church is run by elderly men so it's little surprise they have a propensity for dad rock. Next we'll hear that the Pope watches Top Gear. H&R is disappointed, however, that they didn't throw Christian-era Dylan into the mix, or take things literally with Spaceman 3's "Walkin' With Jesus" or Tom Waits' "Chocolate Jesus". Hear some of the Vatican's picks and our own selections at independent.co.uk/mixtape. Larry Ryan

Goldenballs aims high

In the autumn days of a sporting career, the sun setting on boyish looks, a footballer might choose to get himself a youthful haircut. Once, that meant asking Mr Toni for a fresh new perm. Today, the gentleman goal-scorer opts for the "vertihair" style. Dynamic and impressively thick, it is not only apt, but, with Beckham's beard, is the hairy equivalent of a palindrome: his face now looks the same upside down. Susie Rushton