Belfast Telegraph

Gothic goes glam for the return of Game of Thrones... but the new season's secrets stay under wraps

By Joanne Sweeney

Game of Thrones stars swapped gauntlets for glamour and chainmail for chic as they stepped out in style at the hit show's London premiere ahead of its long-awaited fourth season.

Turning heads in the gothic surroundings of The Guildhall last night were Rosie Leslie – who plays feisty Ygritte – and Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark).

The Iron Throne from the fantasy drama would not have looked out of place at the premiere, as burning flames lit the way to the entrance of the imposing building, lit to look like part of the set.

The cast has been coy about the plot of season four – leading characters have a nasty habit of losing their lives – and last night were impeccably behaved as the brand ambassadors for the hit show shot mainly in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland actors expected to survive the cull, however, include Conleth Hill (Varys) and Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion).

Meanwhile, some of the cast believe the TV hit would look even better on a cinema screen. Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos Seaworth, said: "It sounds to me like a fine idea – just for the experience of sitting and screaming at whoever is getting killed or the bad guys getting away with murder again."

Returning to UK Sky Atlantic on April 7, the new season takes up after the infamous Red Wedding – which left many viewers with their jaws on the floor after two leading characters were dispatched in a glut of violent gore.

The notorious slaughter scene even prompted a fan joke: Why is Game of Thrones writer George RR Martin not on Twitter? Because he's killed all 140 characters.

But anyone who has read Martin's novels may be in for a surprise this year. Turner revealed: "The great thing about Game Of Thrones is it's going more away from the books as we go on, so it's all very hush-hush secret. We really have no idea what's going to happen."

The HBO Game of Thrones exhibition is set to return to Belfast in June, while a new public tour run by McCombs, travelling to the programme's North West locations, will soon be available three days a week.

New signage funded by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board has also been placed at Ballintoy Harbour in Co Antrim. This is soon to be followed by signage at Inch Abbey, Quoile, Co Down and other locations.

Tourists and homegrown fans will also be able to try out their hands at archery at the home of Winterfell (Castleward, Co Down) or watch Game of Thrones-inspired jewellry being handcrafted at the Co Antrim artisan workshop, Steensons Économusée.

Last night, a spokeswoman for the NI Tourist Board said: "There is research that suggests one-in-10 overseas visitors comes to the UK because of a film or television production and we believe there is great potential for screen tourism. We are very excited about the return of HBO's Game of Thrones Exhibition to Belfast in June 2014."

HBO executive vice president Jay Rowe addressed an investment conference in Belfast last October and promised that there would be further seasons of Game of Thrones.

FACTFILE

* Game of Thrones' eagerly awaited fourth season airs on HBO in the US at 8pm on Sunday, April 6.

* The premier, Two Swords, airs on Sky Atlantic UK at the same time on Monday, April 7.

* It is the most pirated TV show in the world.

* The GoT YouTube trailer has already clocked up over 20m views from fans.

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