Stars of the hit TV series Game of Thrones have spoken about the natural beauty of Northern Ireland.
Many of the scenes of the HBO fantasy drama are filmed in Belfast and in areas near the coast of Co Antrim.
The natural scenery is a perfect place to film the series, in which fictional noble families compete to be recognised as the most powerful dynasty in the mythical land of Westeros.
Some of the outdoor scenes are filmed at Tollymore Forest, while other locations include the Mourne Mountains, Castle Ward, Cairncastle, Maghamorne quarry and Shane’s Castle.
Alfie Allen who pays Theon Greyjoy said: “I love the accent. I just love the coast line you know. We filmed a lot on the coast line. If Northern Ireland had better weather, it would be like New Zealand.
“It’s an immensely beautiful country.”
Belfast actor Ian Beattie said that HBO had done a huge favour to Northern Ireland and that he was very proud that the show is filmed in his home country.
Beattie, who plays Meryn Trant, said: “It has done wonders for the Northern Irish film industry and it has shown the world that Northern Ireland has some of the best crew, some of the best actors and some of the best locations in the world.
“I think over the next five or six years Northern Ireland can truly become a centre of excellence in film and television making and that is really good for all of us.”
Irish actor Liam Cunningham agrees with Beattie. The star who plays Davos Seaworth said Northern Ireland’s strong involvement in the show was a “win win for everybody.”
He said: “There’s a huge dividend. There’s huge amounts of people being employed up there on the back of this and all the other shows and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue and long may it continue.”
Fans of the show will not have long to wait to find out how the delicate balance of power in Westeros will develop next. The fifth season starts next week on 13 April.[php] include ‘game-of-thrones.html’; [/php]