Game of Thrones: HBO defends graphic scenes of sex and violence in fantasy epic filmed in Northern Ireland
Game of Thrones is certainly not a programme for the faint-hearted, often characterised by its graphic scenes of sex, violence and rape.
But Michael Lombardo, an executive at broadcaster HBO, has defended the content of the hit fantasy series, claiming it is not "without any purpose".
Speaking at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, the president of programming said: "I personally don't see myself as a libertine. I don't think [graphic scenes] have ever been without any purpose.
"Dan [Weiss] and Dave [Benioff] are two very sober, thoughtful men. They have books as a map. Which involve wars, violence, sex. We have certainly not given them an edict or a note that they need to tone down the sexual content in the show."
The series, based on George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels has been criticised for gratuitous nudity and extreme violence. In the latest series a rape scene caused a fallout among fans, particularly as the way in which it was filmed was viewed as a departure from the books.
In response to this, Lomabardo said: "I appreciate there was some controversy and it generated a conversation about what consensual sex is and isn't.
"People responsible for programming have two responsibilities. To be responsible, not to have sex and violence that's gratuitous. That is certainly not who we are.
"At the same time we don't want to be a censor that inhibits the authentic organic creative process by policing how many breasts should be on a show.";
He added that because viewers must pay to watch HBO it is not necessarily an all-ages appropriate channel.
He said: "As long as I feel that [violence] isn't the reason [people] are watching the show, that it isn't a show trying to attract viewers with sex and violence, I am not going to play police."
Belfast Telegraph Digital