When is the first Game of Thrones spin-off on TV? What’s it about? Will any characters return?

Everything you need to know about the new Game of Thrones prequel from screenwriter Jane Goldman

One of the White Walkers in Game of Thrones (HBO, HF)

One of the mooted Game of Thrones spin-offs is finally starting to happen, with HBO ordering a pilot (though not yet a full series) for a new project set thousands of years before the events of the main series.

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At the moment the precise details of the plot are a mystery – but what DO we already know about what’ll happen in the new show, who stars in it and how it relates to Game of Thrones itself? Read on below to find out.


What is the Game of Thrones prequel about?

According to HBO, the new series will be around 5,000 years before the events of the main drama during a time known by Game of Thrones characters as the Age of Heroes, a period of history when iconic and near-mythical figures had all sorts of unusual adventures.

More specifically, HBO have said the series will chronicle “the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour.”

They added: “From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend… it’s not the story we think we know.”

And George RR Martin, who wrote the original novels the series is based on and created Westeros, has revealed that the series will find a very different world to the one we know…

“Westeros is a very different place,” he told EW. “There’s no King’s Landing. There’s no Iron Throne. There are no Targaryens — Valyria has hardly begun to rise yet with its dragons and the great empire that it built. We’re dealing with a different and older world and hopefully that will be part of the fun of the series.”


Who stars in the new Game of Thrones prequel?

John Simm in episode 4 of Strangers

A number of the spin-off’s cast have been revealed over the last few months, including John Simm, Jamie Campbell-Bower, Miranda Richardson and Naomi Watts, the latter of whom is the only figure to have some character information so far.

Watts is described as “socialite with a dark secret” and is set to lead the series, and it’s expected that more details about other characters will emerge in the coming months.

Other actors apparently set to begin filming the prequel pilot this summer are Marquis Rodriguez (Luke Cage), Poldark’s Richard McCabe, John Heffernan (Collateral, Dracula), Josh Whitehouse (Poldark), Naomi Ackie (Star Wars Episode IX), Dixie Egerickx (Patrick Melrose), Ivanno Jeremiah (Humans, Doctor Who), Denise Gough (Angels in America),  Sheila Atim (Harlots), Georgie Henley (Chronicles of Narnia), Alex Sharp (To the Bone), and Toby Regbo (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald).

In other words, yes, it looks like this show will have a cast nearly as big and sprawling as Thrones itself.


Who’s writing the series?

 

Jane Goldman
Jane Goldman

Kick-Ass screenwriter Jane Goldman (who is married to British TV host Jonathan Ross) is making and showrunning the series with some help from George RR Martin himself, the author of the Song of Ice and Fire novels upon which Game of Thrones is based.

“I’ve consulted with all of the writers on all of the successor shows, and several of them have visited me in Santa Fe for long days of discussion, and we’ve gone back and forth in email, text, and telephone, so I have definitely been involved… but really, the accolades here should go to Jane,” Martin wrote on his blog.

“She has been an absolute thrill to work with… and my god, what a talent.”


What is the Age of Heroes?

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The Age of Heroes took place many millennia before the events of the main series, and saw the distant ancestors of many Game of Thrones characters begin to build the version of Westeros we know today.

Among them were Bran the builder, a Stark who created Winterfell and the Wall, Lann the Clever, the first Lannister who managed to con his way into a fortune and lands and the Grey King of the Iron Islands, distantly related to the Greyjoys of Pyke.

This period also features legendary figures like the blind knight Symeon Star-Eyes, Garth Greenhand and the original Prince That Was Promised Azhor Ahai, who battled the White Walkers during their first attack on Westeros. In the current series, it’s believed Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen may be his reincarnation, destined to save the world all over again.

“All of the successor shows we’ve been developing have been prequels, as I have mentioned before,” Martin said.

This one really puts the PRE in prequel, though, since it is set not ninety years before Game of Thrones (like novella series Dunk & Egg), or a few hundred years, but rather five thousand years before.


Will any characters return?

The Night King and the White Walkers in Game of Thrones (HBO, HF)
The Night King and the White Walkers in Game of Thrones (HBO, HF)

It’s unlikely, considering the huge time gap between series. Still, the White Walkers have been confirmed to be a part of the prequel and who knows how long they live? Maybe one or two familiar rotting, frozen faces will pop up from time to time.

“None of the characters or actors from Game of Thrones will appear in the new show,” Martin has insisted, for his part.


When will the Game of Thrones prequel be on TV?

Hard to say at the moment, but given that we were waiting until April 2019 for the final series of Game of Thrones itself, we doubt it’ll be any time soon.

HBO have suggested they’re trying not to rush the spin-offs, and this series only has a pilot so far, so it could still be a few years before it sees the light of day.


What other prequels are there?

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 18: Co-Executive Producer George R.R. Martin arrives at the premiere of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 3 at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 18, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)Getty, TL

A few months ago HBO revealed that there are FOUR other prequel spin-offs, with various intriguing creative talents working on them – however, George RR Martin later revealed that one of the ideas was rejected.

“If you have been following along, you know that we started with four, and eventually went to five,” Martin wrote on his blog.

“One of those has been shelved, I am given to understand, and of course Jane’s pilot is now moving to film. But that does not mean the others are dead.

“Three more Game of Thrones prequels, set in different periods and featuring different characters and storylines, remain in active development. Everything I am told indicates that we could film at least one more pilot, and maybe more than one, in the years to come.

“We do have an entire world and tens of thousands of years of history to play with, after all. But this is television, so nothing is certain.”

Kong: Skull Island screenwriter Max Borenstein was said to be working on an idea, while current Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman (who usually writes a couple of episodes per season) was taking on a series with some help from Martin.

Man Men writer Carly Wray and LA Confidential screenplay writer Brian Helgeland were also working on their own spin-offs, though as with all the projects except Goldman’s we currently don’t know what their ideas could actually include.

Even more recently, Warner Media executive Bob Greenblatt suggested that with one prequel in the pipeline, we shouldn’t hold our breath for any more…

“The last thing you want to do is roll out a spin-off or two and they’re not up to the standard of the original show and then you’ve just sort of failed miserably,” he told The Wrap.

“But sure, it makes sense to try to sustain it if we can. You know, can you really do two spin-offs? I don’t know.”

He ominously added: “I mean, I’m not even sure you can do one. You know, so I don’t know yet is the big, long boring answer and I wish I did.”


What will the Game of Thrones spin-off be called?

At the moment, we’re a long way away from the Thrones prequel getting an official title – but George RR Martin already has a pretty good idea, stemming from the deadly war with the White Walkers die to be featured.

“My vote would be The Long Night, which says it all, but I’d be surprised if that’s where we end up,” he wrote.

“More likely HBO will want to work the phrase “game of thrones” in there somewhere.  We’ll know sooner or later.”

Later, Martin seemed to confirm that The Long Night would be the official title before walking back his comments, so until we know more we’ll just keep giving it the catchy “Game of Thrones successor show sequel spin-off” moniker that trips off the tongue so well.

This article will be updated with more details as they arrive

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Game of Thrones returns to HBO and NOWTV on the 14th April