North Antrim ‘should throw out welcome mat’ to Game of Thrones

editorial image

North Antrim should throw the welcome mat out again for the makers of smash television show Game of Thrones, it has been claimed.

The area has featured heavily in filming of the first two series of the blockbuster with a lengthy scene shot at Ballintoy Harbour screened on Monday evening.

On Thursday Northern Ireland Screen announced filming of the third season of the show, described by some critics as Lord of the Rings meets the Sopranos, will take place in Northern Ireland although details of where it will be shot have yet to be announced.

Moyle councillor Cara McShane, who lives in Ballintoy, said she would be delighted to have the makers of Game of Thrones returning to the district, provided their filming didn’t impede on the busy tourism season.

“The only problem we would have would be with filming taking place in July or August at the height of the summer season,” she said.

“I think as a council we should be looking very strongly at setting down our perimeters in regards to when they would wish to film.

“But we would love to have Game of Thrones back again.

“It raises the profile of the area and has previously generated a lot of interest.”

Last August Ballintoy Harbour - a mecca for tourists throughout the summer months - was transformed into a medieval setting by the makers of Game of Thrones.

Access to the harbour was restricted throughout filming and locals were prevented from entering the set or taking pictures.

Boat owners who use the harbour were compensated for the inconvenience caused by filming and £7,000 was paid to Moyle District Council for the use of the site.

In a statement on Thursday Northern Ireland screen said:

“Northern Ireland Screen can confirm that production for the third season will be based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

“Game of Thrones has received funding from the Northern Ireland Screen fund supported by Invest NI and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

“The series will shoot in the Paint Hall film studio and the new sound stages in Belfast, the Linen Mill Film Studios in Banbridge, as well as various locations in Northern Ireland.”

Among the locations used in the previous two series were Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, Castle Ward in Strangford, Tollymore Forest and the north Antrim coast.

Series one of Game of Thrones was a worldwide hit, with the follow-up currently airing on Sky Atlantic also drawing high viewing figures.

Among the early critical praise for the second season, Newsday called Game of Thrones “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.”

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.” Filming of series three is expected to start in June and last nine months.