Filming of hit show to return to Mill

FILMING of the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones, will return to Banbridge for a third season.

The hit show, which can currently be seen in the UK on Sky Atlantic, will be shot at the old Ballievey Linen Mill.

Screen NI - who confirmed the news following an announcement by the President of HBO Programming, Michael Lombardo - were unable to disclose when filming would begin on the third season. Rumours are rife that it will begin in June and last for nine months.

“Series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss raised our expectations for the second season – and then surpassed them,” said Mr Lombardo. “We are thrilled by all the viewer and media support we’ve received for the series, and can’t wait to see what Dan and David have in store for next season.”

Filming of the series has received funding from the Northern Ireland Screen fund supported by Invest NI and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It will also shoot in the Paint Hall film studio and the new sound stages in Belfast as well as various locations in Northern Ireland.

Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones is an epic drama set in the world of Westeros, where ambitious men and women of both honor and ill-repute live in a land whose summers and winters can last years. The Emmy and Golden Globe winning fantasy series began its 10-episode second season on Sky Atlantic recently.

The second series has received early critical praise, with Newsday calling it “the best show on television,” while the Los Angeles Times termed the series “a cinematic feast” and “masterful.” The Wall Street Journal hailed the show as “magnificent” and USA Today called it “near perfection.”

The show is massive in the United States and according to early data, Game of Thrones’ season two premiere has already accumulated a gross audience of 8.3 million viewers, and is on track to easily surpass the season one average of 9.3 million viewers.

Following the first series First Minister Peter Robinson said the show had helped to create around 800 jobs in Northern Ireland. 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.”