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Ian McElhinney Game for a Thrones splurge as actor admits he's yet to watch final season


Ian McElhinney in Game of Thrones as the character Ser Barristan Selmy
Ian McElhinney in Game of Thrones as the character Ser Barristan Selmy
2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Photo by Press Eye
John Toner

By John Toner

Game of Thrones star Ian McElhinney has revealed he is yet to watch the controversial final series of the blockbuster show.

The veteran actor (70), famed for his role as Ser Barristan Selmy in the fantasy saga, also spoke of his relief at dodging the majority of spoilers as he waits for the right moment to binge-watch all six episodes.

Speaking to Sunday Life ahead of our Spirit of Northern Ireland awards, at which he's one of the judges, Ian said: "I haven't watched the final season yet, I've been holding off until it's all complete so I can watch it in one final splurge.

"That's how I think I'd rather do it. I've been lucky I haven't seen enough people yet to say what's happened and I'm grateful for that, I'd rather not have too many spoilers and one way or another I've managed to avoid them so far.

"The thing that surprised me the other day was, and I was quite taken aback when I realised it, I am nearly five-and-a-half years out of Game of Thrones. I last filmed on it in the winter of 2013 and it's kind of becoming, bizarrely, a bit of a distant memory.

"Maybe because there was such a time lag between series seven and eight that we forgot how long ago it was.

"I loved doing it and I was disappointed to leave it when I did, I didn't expect to leave it when I did but I'm not part of it any more and have moved on to other things but it's been phenomenal. It was a phenomenon in itself and has been a phenomenon for Northern Ireland."

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Sarah McCool (Kathy Kiera Clarke), Mary Quinn (Tara Lynne O'Neill), Gerry Quinn (Tommy Tiernan) and Granda Joe (Ian McElhinney)
Sarah McCool (Kathy Kiera Clarke), Mary Quinn (Tara Lynne O'Neill), Gerry Quinn (Tommy Tiernan) and Granda Joe (Ian McElhinney)

With his popular role as Granda Joe in Derry Girls and the worldwide popularity of Game of Thrones, Ian has been surprised by the level of fame which comes with appearing in serialised shows in the on-demand TV age.

He said: "It used to be that if I was stopped in the street at all it would be for Ser Barristan Selmy, but now it's just as often, if not more often, for my character in Derry Girls, I find it extraordinary.

"Going back to when I was younger in this business you did something that would be screened in various places and this sort of popularity never occurred to you. Now you do these things and there are so many more platforms, there's many more things being put out on a global basis. This means you could end up anywhere across the world and you'd never have anticipated that 20 years ago.

"It's great! I've met people who've watched Derry Girls in Australia and America and it's incredible. I think the constant access to it, meaning you can watch it again and again helps."

He even jokingly admitted he needs to re-watch scenes in Derry Girls on occasion, adding: "I have to admit sometimes I have to re-watch parts of it because I didn't quite understand what was said because of the accent or speed of delivery, but that's fine!"

Ian has been working on several projects since leaving Thrones, including Superman prequel series Krypton, Derry Girls and female-focused legal drama The Split. He said: "At the moment there's Krypton, which is a major ongoing series. It's like being on Game of Thrones again in a way because it's seasonal and it'll be in 10 parts.

"It's the world of Superman, which is intriguing. I play his grandfather's grandfather, because it's set on Krypton way before Superman existed. It has parallels with Game of Thrones because it's different families warring with each other.

"Right now I'm involved in something called The Split, which is a six-part series from last year about a family of female lawyers."

Ian also revealed that he and other family members collectively bought a holiday home in Portrush earlier this year for cosy family getaways.

Krypton - Season 1
Krypton - Season 1

He said: "We've invested in a lodge, because there's children and grandchildren and we thought it would be a nice place for all members of different ages to benefit from.

"It's a nice place to be, as we've got The Open coming up and we're lucky enough to have a nice view, so we're very happy with it."

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