Belfast Telegraph

Friday 6 March 2015

Game of Thrones: Northern Ireland stars join cult show

Some familiar faces, as well as scenery, in third series of TV epic

Big break: Co Armagh actor Richard Dormer as the outlaw Beric Dondarrion
Big break: Co Armagh actor Richard Dormer as the outlaw Beric Dondarrion
Ciaran Hinds plays Mance Rayder in the third series of the hit HBO show Game of Thrones
Michelle Fairley plays Catelyn Stark in the hit HBO show Game of Thrones
Diana Rigg plays Lady Olenna Tyrell in the third series of the hit HBO show Game of Thrones

It has showcased Northern Ireland’s beauty spots to a global audience of millions.

And in the forthcoming series of multi-award winning epic Game of Thrones some of our most famous faces will feature, having been given a medieval makeover.

The much-anticipated third series of the HBO show hits UK screens in April — and its makers have whet appetites by giving fans a glimpse of what is in store.

A host of new actors have been added for the 10-show series of the fantasy — the majority of which was filmed here — and they include homegrown stars Ciaran Hinds and Richard Dormer.

Dormer plays Beric Dondarrion, leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners.

He has garnered huge acclaim as Belfast record shop owner Terri Hooley in music biopic Good Vibrations and was also lauded for his performance in Hurricane, a play on the life of snooker legend Alex Higgins.

Hinds plays Mance Rayder, King Beyond the Wall and the leader of an army of Wildlings.

Eagle-eyed fans of rockers Snow Patrol will also be on the lookout for another local face — group frontman Gary Lightbody has a small cameo in an episode.

Other additions include Dame Diana Rigg, Mackenzie Crook of The Office and Pirates Of The Carribean, Thomas Sangster of Nowhere Boy and ‘Dennis Pennis’ Paul Kaye.

Coleraine’s Michelle Fairley returns as Catelyn Stark. The third season of the acclaimed drama adapts the first half of George RR Martin's book, A Storm of Swords. For filming, the makers used two purpose-built 44,000 square-feet sound stages in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and the Linen Mill Film Studios in Banbridge, Co Down, as well as exterior locations throughout Northern Ireland.

Series three starts on US TV on March 31, with the series premiere on Sky Atlantic in the UK on April 1.

The first two series of Game of Thrones are believed to have generated £43m for the local economy. Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the show gave Northern Ireland the biggest worldwide exposure it has ever achieved outside of politics and the Troubles.

“Throughout its lifespan it is likely that Game of Thrones will deliver the widest media exposure Northern Ireland has ever achieved outside of politics and the Troubles,” she said.

Executive producer Frank Doelger, said the makers of Game of Thrones are keen to retain Northern Ireland as its principal location for filming.

“The overcast look has been very good for us, it has given us great contrast to some of the sunnier locations we have filmed as well,” he said.

“You can find an incredible range of locations that are very easy to reach which give great scale, great scope.

“It’s been a fantastic experience. Everybody in the local community, property owners, shops, restaurants, hotels, all the local services have done a great job.”

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