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Just like Dean Thomas (see ‘Extras’), Flitwick has a background that I now realise will never see its way into the books because it is not relevant to the plot. He is human but with a dash of goblin ancestry – something like a great, great, great grandfather. This is only interesting in as much as it gives him a perhaps unexpected empathy for people like Hagrid who are, in Death Eater parlance, half-breeds. However, Flitwick and Hagrid have never had a scene together, so Flitwick’s genetic composition has been relegated to the very back of my mind over the six novels in which he features, although I think it has informed his character. Slightly dotty though he may be, he is welcoming of all students, whatever their background (he did say in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that he was very fond of Lily, thus establishing that he was not prejudiced against Muggle-borns).
I must admit, I was taken aback when I saw the film Flitwick, who looks very much like a goblin/elf (I’ve never actually asked the filmmakers precisely what he is), because the Flitwick in my imagination simply looks like a very small old man.