Game of Thrones set of 10 x 1st class stamp
Those of a certain age will remember the days when there were only three television channels for British viewers to enjoy. With such a limited choice of programming, it wasn’t particularly surprising that a few TV series proved to be so incredibly popular that everyone appeared to be watching them or at least to know all about them. Back in 1980, it was Dallas which was attracting record audiences. The entire nation was on tenterhooks, waiting to discover who had shot J.R. Ewing!
Everyone was talking about the big reveal! An American soap opera was garnering more interest and press coverage than a presidential election and the identity of the killer was subject to more conjecture than that of Jack the Ripper.
Streaming and Satellite TV
You would think that things would be very different these days. Satellite Television and the various streaming services provide British viewers with literally hundreds of channels and thousands of series encompassing every conceivable genre. Viewers in Europe and across the pond also enjoy amazing choice. Compulsory viewing in one household may be completely unknown to the other residents of the street.
Those with an Amazon Prime subscription will be feasting on Amazon Original programming such as the brilliant Goliath and Transparent whilst Sky TV devotees might be addicted to Breaking Bad or the Blacklist instead. Viewers are faced with having to choose which services to pay for before they can decide what to watch.
Game of Choice
But if a series is sufficiently original and well-made, it still has the power to transcend the complexities of modern broadcasting. In recent years, it has been Game of Thrones which has captured the imagination of a huge number of television viewers. This American series with a significant British contribution has been a massive hit worldwide and with unexpected consequences.
Not only has Game of Thrones become compulsory viewing for millions, the series has also sparked a huge rise in tourism in the countries in which it has been filmed! It isn’t only the TV companies who have been profiting from this epic show.
A Song of Fire and Ice
If you are not aware of Games of thrones, where have you been? It can now claim to be one of the biggest shows ever made and seven series have been broadcast thus far. An adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels, Game of Thrones premiered on HBO in the United States in 2011. It has gripped audiences with its intrigue-filled plot, dark tone and fantasy setting of magic and dragons. The series is filmed at Titanic Studios in Belfast and on location in several European destinations including Northern Ireland, Scotland, Malta, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco and Spain.
The enormous popularity of the series and the stunning cinematography have combined to grab the imaginations of viewers to the extent that they are now travelling in droves to the filming locations. Game of Thrones has become much more than a television series, it is an industry! But not everyone is happy about the new wave of tourism! The dissenters include the Mayor of Dubrovnik.
The Walled City
Dubrovnik, Croatia’s jewel of the Adriatic, has featured heavily in Games of Thrones and the result has been a significant increase in the number of visitors to the stunning city. Unfortunately, Dubrovnik is struggling to cope with the influx of tourists. A diminutive, walled medieval city, it was already a popular destination and its walls and narrow streets are now frequently choked by a mass of international tourists.
Dubrovnik’s Mayor, Mato Franković is now planning to cap the number of tourists who are permitted to walk the city’s walls each day at 4,000, to prevent overcrowding. Game of Thrones is also filmed at other locations in Croatia including Trogir and Split which have been able to deal with the influx reasonably well. The country’s economy has received a valuable boost but Dubrovnik simply cannot cope and the charming ambiance of the beautiful city is frequently lost on busy days when the streets are completely choked with people.
GoT in Northern Ireland
Things are very different in Northern Ireland where the tourism authorities have been keen to take advantage of the ridiculous popularity of Game of Thrones. Fans have been attracted to the country via the Journey of Doors campaign which invited fans of the show to travel around, visiting a number of carved doors which honour various episodes of Game of Thrones and to see nearby filming locations. Tourism Ireland has been keen to capitalise on the free publicity provided by the show and their efforts are paying off.
Land of Fire and Ice
Game of Thrones 2nd class Post & Go The Iron Throne
Game of Thrones Post & Go 1st class The Iron Throne
Game of Thrones has helped to drive a massive boom in tourism to Iceland. There has been a five-fold increase in the number of visitors to the country since the series was first aired. It is now possible to choose from a number of different GoT tours when visiting Iceland and specialist tour operators are offering Game of Thrones themed holidays in the country. Filming hasn’t been as extensive in Iceland as it has been in Croatia and Northern Ireland, but the country’s association with the show has worked wonders for its economy!
The British Contribution
Games of Thrones is an American production but with a significant British contribution. In addition to being filmed in Belfast, GoT features a predominantly British cast including Emilia Clarke, Lena Headley, Maisie Williams, Diana Rigg, Sean Bean and Kit Harrington. Royal Mail’s Game of Thrones stamp issue honours the British contribution to the award-winning show and has been conceived in recognition of its enormous popularity in this country.
Endorsed by HBO and personally approved by the cast, the bumper issue features stunning stamps and a wonderful array of beautifully designed products which should not be missed. These are likely to appeal to both serious fans of GoT and fantasy drama enthusiasts.
The Game of Thrones Stamps
Showcasing ten of the show’s leading personalities and non-human characters, the stamps feature photographic representations of the subjects together with montages of images from the series which encapsulate the characters’ stories. As you view the set from left to right, each stamp complements the next stamp and each boasts its own colour identity. The typeface is inspired by the opening titles of the Game of Thrones series.
Eddard Stark’s oldest daughter, Sansa, was held in King’s Landing by the Lannisters after her father’s murder. Initially naive and trusting, she learned how to play the Game of Thrones by observing the devious Petyr Baelish. Following a battle to reclaim her ancestral home, she became the Lady of Winterfell. Sansa Stark is played by Sophie Turner in the series.
The King in the North is a loyal and honourable man. After joining the Night’s Watch, he rose to become the Lord Commander, but his insistence on making common cause with the wildlings led to mutiny and his demise. Resurrected, he returned to Winterfell and defeated Ramsay Bolton. Jon Snow is portrayed by Kit Harington in the series.
Played by Sean Bean, the head of the Stark family was an honourable, upright and decent man in a dark world. Asked by his oldest friend Robert Baratheon to govern as Hand of the King, he found himself out-manoeuvred at every turn. His execution on trumped-up charges fuelled the War of the Five Kings.
Portrayed by Diana Rigg, sharp of tongue and fierce of wit, Olenna Tyrell was the matriarch of the Tyrell family. After losing almost all her family in an explosion orchestrated by Cersei Lannister, Olenna vowed revenge and joined forces with Daenerys Targaryen hoping to bring the Lannister lions to their knees.
The head of the Lannister family was portrayed by Charles Dance. He was a consummate tactician who ruled his adult children with an iron will. Having engineered victory in the War of the Five Kings thanks to his astute military tactics, Tywin was later undone by his refusal to respect and appreciate Tyrion Lannister.
The youngest Lannister and played by Peter Dinklage, Tyrion spent most of his life shunned by his family, who failed to appreciate his sharp political mind. Falsely accused of poisoning Joffrey, he was freed by his brother Jaime only to then murder their father. He has pledged his allegiance to Daenerys Targaryen.
Robert Baratheon’s widow spent years hiding a dark secret: her three children were not Robert’s but the product of a long-standing relationship with her twin brother Jaime. Now all three children are dead, and Cersei sits on the Iron Throne in King’s Landing. She is determined to see off all other contenders. Cersei is played by Lena Headey and Nell Williams.
Portrayed by Maisie Williams, Eddard and Catelyn Stark’s youngest daughter was more interested in learning to fight than becoming a lady. After her father’s death, she survived on her wits, eventually training with the Faceless Men in the Free City of Braavos. She subsequently returned home to Winterfell and reunited with her siblings.
Cersei’s cynical twin brother is portrayed by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the series and has a major flaw – his love for his sister. Captured early on in the War of the Five Rings by Robb and Catelyn Stark, he was freed by the latter against her son’s wishes. Increasingly troubled by Cersei’s behaviour, he was last seen leaving King’s Landing.
Revered by her followers as the mother of dragons, Daenerys Targaryen recently landed in Westeros to claim the Iron Throne. Shortly after her arrival, Jon Snow, hoping to convince her to help him fight the forces beyond the Wall, offers the support of the north. Daenerys Targaryen is played by Emilia Clarke.
Limited Edition Products
Fans of Game of thrones are in for a treat with the outstanding products in this spectacular issue which kicks off the new year in style!
Game of Thrones Presentation Pack
The Presentation Pack delivers behind the scenes access to the world of Game of Thrones and explores costume designs, filming locations and early set design drafts. Written by Sarah Hughes, author of The Guardian’s popular Game of Thrones blog, the Presentation Pack is based on HBO’s map of Westeros and depicts key locations from the series. With an exclusive illustration of the Game of Thrones realm, this pack is a must-have.
Prestige Stamp Book
The ultimate gift for any GoT fan, this book has 24 pages to explore and is packed with background information. There’s a sneak peak at how the opening scenes of the series were developed and showcases reproductions of the initial sketches of significant locations.
Game of Thrones Miniature Sheet
Focussing on the non-human characters, the minisheet includes 4 x 1st Class Special Stamps and 1 x Definitive First Class Stamp. Featuring a similar design concept to the mint stamps, they boast distinctive backgrounds which showcase the characters’ stories.
Stamp Art Souvenir Folder
A limited edition of 10,000, this fabulous folder features stunning front and back covers which depict all four main houses in the series, and includes an inside that opens out to reveal an exclusive illustration of the Night King’s peering gaze.
Further Game of Thrones Products
This issue also brings enthusiasts first day covers, medal covers, a collector sheet, stamp sheets, a framed collector sheet, a framed minisheet and framed stamp sets. Wow!
The Games of Thrones Phenomenon
Having attracted record numbers of viewers and garnering no less than 38 Primetime Emmy Awards, Game of Thrones has become something of a phenomenon. Critically acclaimed for its acting, story and production values, the series is compulsory viewing for many and has sparked a massive increase in tourism in the countries in which it has been filmed. If you haven’t seen it yet, perhaps you should tune in sometime soon! You never know, you might discover your next holiday destination in one of the episodes!
Game of Thrones Generic stamp sheet