Not a headline we expected to be writing, but it’s true - Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss have made a public apology to former US president George W Bush after it was revealed that a disembodied model of his head was supposedly shown impaled on a spike in series one of HBO’s fantasy drama Game of Thrones.
It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment but a decapitated head bearing a certain similarity to America's 43rd President does appear in a scene near the start of the season one finale - though whether the similarity is accidental or deliberate is not entirely clear.
In their commentary on the Game of Thrones season one DVD box set, Benioff and Weiss suggest it is indeed a model of Bush's head (while making sure to stress that its inclusion was the result of financial constraints rather than political beliefs).
"George Bush's head appears in a couple of beheading scenes. It's not a choice, it's not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around," explains the commentary.
After the story went viral yesterday, when a fan highlighted the scene on social news website Reddit, Benioff and Weiss issued a statement apologising for any offence caused and indicating that the resemblance might not have been deliberate after all.
"We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can't afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk," said the statement.
"After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W Bush. In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former President and apologise if anything we said or did suggested otherwise."
But a further statement from HBO made it clear the US network's bosses were taking the incident seriously.
"We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste," said the statement. "We made this clear to the executive producers of the series who apologised immediately for this inadvertent careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production."