DAVID Yates might be best known for directing gritty television thrillers - but when the call came to go to the Hogwarts School of Wizardry, there was no way he was going to miss out on the chance to make a Harry Potter movie.

Mr Yates, who has lived in Charlbury for 15 years, was as surprised as anyone when he was offered the chance to direct Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth blockbuster in the series.

Overseeing Harry Potter's first kiss must have seemed far from some of his gritty television dramas such as Sex Traffic. But he grabbed the opportunity, and has formed a close working relationship with Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, and Oxford actress Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger.

The all-important summons to Hogwarts came during a cliff walk in Cornwall, where he was on holiday.

Mr Yates, 44, who previously worked as a teacher at the Oxford School of Drama, recalled the magical moment that would transform him from being a well regarded director of political dramas into one of the world's best known movie makers.

He said: "The mobile rang It was my agency. 'Do you want to do Harry Potter?' And I said, 'I'm sorry, are you kidding.'"

Emma, the Oxford schoolgirl who plays Hermione Granger, was full of praise for the new man in charge at Hogwarts. She said: "This is the most genuine of all the films. It has a greater sense of realism.

"The word I most connect with David is truth. He always wanted to find the truth in all the characters and in every single performance. We relished that. It stopped us getting complacent the fifth time around.

"It was really lovely because David listened to what we had to say about our characters. He was respectful of the fact that we have been playing these people for five films now."

Daniel Radcliffe is delighted that Mr Yates has already been invited to direct the sixth Potter Film, The Half Blood Prince.

"I think he managed to take the charm and visual flare of the earlier films and add his own sense of grit, that perhaps was not there before. He is a delightful man, very soft-spoken. Yet I have never been pushed as hard as I was on this film, partly because of the nature of the story, and partly because of his directing.

"He always wanted me to go deeper."

Next time around, Mr Yates hints that he is really going to enjoy himself. "The next movie is less intense on one level. It's more sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, I would say."