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Game of Thrones fans download leaked Season 5 episodes ahead of Sky Atlantic airing

By Nevin Farrell

Game of Thrones returns to our screens tonight for a fifth series - but if you want to avoid the plot being spoiled, keep away from the internet and social media.

That's the advice to fans of the show, much of which is shot in Northern Ireland, after the first four episodes of the new season - nearly half of series five - were leaked online.

By last night, the number of downloads by fans wanting a sneak peek was expected to hit the million mark.

The leak is believed to have been sourced from a DVD screener sent to the media for reviewing.

The HBO smash is the most-pirated TV show in the world.

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Meanwhile, Game of Thrones star Kit Harington has apologised after there was uproar at comments he made about Belfast on an American chat show. The 28-year-old Londoner joked that Belfast is "wonderful for two or three days" and emphasised that he has spent five years filming in the city, drawing laughter from a studio audience.

Harington added: "They've got a wonderful tourist board.

"They celebrate three things, which is having the most bombed hotel in Europe, which is great… and they built the Titanic, which is a ship that sunk on its maiden voyage, and now they have Game of Thrones, the most depressing TV show in history. So it's a wonderful, depressing tourist board."

After a storm erupted over the remarks, Harington has now said: "At first I felt people had misunderstood it and then I realised I should apologise.

"I did not mean it to come across in any way derogatory of Belfast or snobbery of Belfast.

"I would hate to think anyone thought I thought that. Belfast is like a second home to me because I have been there for five years.

"That's why I thought I could get away making a joke."

He said he thought he could joke about the Europa Hotel and the Titanic because he once went on a bus tour of Belfast and similar gags were made by the tour guide.

Cashing in

Northern Ireland tourism has benefited significantly from Game of Thrones which is believed to the most popular TV series in the world. Scenes have been shot in a range of locations including Ballintoy, Cushendun, the 'Dark Hedges' in north Antrim and also in Co Down. When scenes are being shot on location in Northern Ireland special security personnel are in place to ensure the public and Press photographers don't snap the action to spoil the show. However, photographers have been able to capture scenes with long lenses from the top of nearby hills.

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