The long night is coming soon for Game of Thrones fans, with only two seasons left before we leave the shores of Westeros for good. 

And it turns out it won’t even be that long a visit, with show bosses David Benioff and DB Weiss confirming previous reports that the final eighth season will feature just six episodes rather than the usual ten, following on from the mere seven episodes of this year’s upcoming season seven.

“It’s only going to be six episodes for the final season,” Benioff said (via EW) at the Texas’ South by Southwest Film Festival yesterday, during a featured speaker panel where he appeared alongside Weiss and series stars Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams.

“From the beginning we’ve wanted to tell a 70-hour movie. It will turn out to be a 73-hour movie, but it’s stayed relatively the same of having the beginning, middle and now we’re coming to the end.”

He added: “It would have been really tough if we lost any core cast members along the way; I’m very happy we’ve kept everyone and we get to finish it the way we want to.”

David Benioff, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams and DB Weiss at the South by Southwest Festival

The pair also revealed that the final six episodes, while unwritten, had already been assigned to writers (“We argued over who got to kill Sansa,” Benioff joked), and reiterated that while Game of Thrones spin-offs could be coming, they were keeping well clear.

“I think HBO might well do [another series] and I look forward to watching it and I think it be great, but I think they should get new blood in,” Benioff said.

For now, they’re instead working on a big finish that will bid a perfect farewell to their time in the Seven Kingdoms – assuming they can keep the whole thing a secret, with the pair acknowledging that the internet makes it “virtually impossible” to keep secrets. 

“Should we just tell everybody what the ending is?” Weiss teased. “It’s a lot of work to shoot this. We could just tell everyone.”

Don’t tempt us… 

Game of Thrones will return to Sky Atlantic on Monday 17th July 2017