Game of Thrones fans aiming to avoid spoilers before the new series airs are going to find it a lot easier than in previous years.
Given that the TV show has now caught up with George RR Martin’s novels, season six will be uncharted territory even for fans of the books, some of whom have had a tendency to let slip critical details before they appear in the show.
But it will also be the first time HBO will not be providing reviewers with preview DVDs or online screeners for any of the new episodes, in an attempt to preserve the secrecy surrounding those new plotlines.
“We’re not sending out press copies this year, anywhere in the world,” said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo. “There will be no copies for review.”
The decision comes after the leak last year of the first four episodes of season five, which had been sent out to reviewers but which ended up on BitTorrent file-sharing sites, leading to spoilers being posted online – something that did not please Game of Thrones producers Dan B Weiss and David Benioff.
“It’s painful for Dan and David,” Lombardo told Entertainment Weekly. “When you have press copies, inevitably friends ask, ‘Can I see your copy?’ There are things that happen. We talked about the upsides and downsides. Some of the press are fans who might be disappointed, but they’ll understand.”
One of the mysteries Benioff and Weiss are no doubt keen to protect is the fate of Kit Harington’s character Jon Snow.
The Night’s Watch commander was brutally murdered at the end of season five but supposed on-set sightings of Harington, along with enigmatic hints dropped in promotional material for the show – and a general lack of acceptance from fans who can’t quite believe their favourite character is really dead – have led to speculation that he will somehow return.
So is Jon Snow dead? For once, the phrase ‘you’ll just have to tune in to find out’ really does mean just that.