Game of Thrones returns to Northern Ireland for new series
Television series Game of Thrones looks set to return to Northern Ireland for a further two series.
American TV bosses are said to have given the nod for author George RR Martin's book Storm Of The Swords to be adapted for the small screen for series three and four of the fantasy epic, which airs on Sky Atlantic in the UK.
And those behind the HBO production — billed by critics as Lord of the Rings meets The Sopranos — are understood to be heading back to Northern Ireland after filming the first and second series here.
Among the locations used were Belfast's Titanic Quarter, Castle Ward in Strangford, Tollymore Forest and the north Antrim coast.
Now the cameras are to be rolled out again with the action set to get under way from June.
Filming is expected to last nine months.
“If we're lucky enough, if we have a season three, that's when it will start not corresponding so neatly to the books as Storm Of Swords is too big to do as one season,” Game of Thrones executive producer David Benioff said after series two was wrapped up.
“Our hope has always been that we can keep this alive somehow. There's a certain scene — I'm not even going to say the name of the scene because the name itself is a spoiler... Let's call it ‘RW'. We've always felt that if we can get to ‘RW', then we've accomplished something.”
HBO is keeping tight-lipped over the location of series three and four, as are Northern Ireland Screen.
But sources close to the production crew say they have been told to clear their diaries for the return of Game of Thrones to Northern Ireland this summer.
Extras NI also appears to have knowledge of the shooting of series three and four.
When asked by would-be actors on Facebook if it needed extras it revealed auditions would be taking place in the coming months.
Series one was a worldwide hit, with the follow-up due to hit Sky Atlantic on April 2.
Following the first series First Minister Peter Robinson said the show had helped to create around 800 jobs locally.
Mr Robinson told the Assembly it was a mistake to think such projects only provide work for actors.
“People often look at creative industries and they'll see a film or TV series being made and they'll think that's 20, 30, or 40 actors.
“In actual fact in this present project probably about 800 individuals have been employed at some stage or another.”
Story so far
The first two series of Golden Globe-winning Game of Thrones, a fantasy TV show, were filmed principally at the Paint Hall in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. Due to size and nature of the filming, it created hundreds of jobs for local people. The first season used an additional five locations in Northern Ireland for shooting, while season two saw a further five locations included.