Why are Game of Thrones episodes getting shorter?

We've been enjoying those precious extra minutes of the fantasy drama - but in recent weeks the writers seem to be trying to claw them back

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Why are Game of Thrones episodes getting shorter?
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Tyrion Lannister may be a little shorter than average but then again so are the recent episodes of Game of Thrones...

Last season, producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss promised to add an extra five to ten minutes to each 50-ish-minute instalment and they were as good as their word. This year, they appeared to be doing the same. With adverts included, the HBO fantasy drama has been running as late as 10:10pm after its 9pm start time on Sky Atlantic – but in the last two weeks they seem to have been trying to claw the extra minutes back.

Last Monday, the credits rolled before 9:55pm and yesterday's episode was the same, coming to an end early just as Tyrion's trial for the murder of King Joffrey had gotten really interesting.

I don't begrudge the writers the right to leave us on a cliffhanger – and however much Game of Thrones you get you're always left wanting more – but with just ten Mondays a year made more bearable by the prospect of Westerosian goodness, those extra few minutes before it's all over for another week are precious.

Last night's episode was significantly shorter than the series opener but part of the reason for the reduction in perceived running time in this country has been Sky Atlantic's decision to reduce the number of ad breaks, something I would normally applaud. In the case of Game of Thrones, though, I'm almost tempted to beg them to bring the ads back just to prolong the inevitable...

Of course, it's more drama (and more dragons!) that we really want. So as we approach the tail end of the series let's hope that, along with the inevitable increase in bloodshed and death, we get some extra time to enjoy it all too...