One of the stars of the smash TV show “Games of Thrones” has some not-too-nice things to say about Belfast, calling its tourism board “wonderfully depressing.”
Kit Harington, the British actor who plays Jon Snow on the HBO series, is in hot water with Belfast residents after his recent appearance on US talk show "Late Night" with Seth Myers.
“Game of Thrones” has been filmed primarily in Northern Ireland, and the series has given a huge boost to local tourism in recent years. The show, based on the books by George R.R. Martin, has also been shot in other locations around Europe, and Myers was quick to ask Harington about the apparent disparity between the filming locations.
"One thing that doesn't seem fair or exciting for you is there are a lot of incredible locations for this show: Croatia, Spain this year. You have not been…your part isn't in the nice places. You’ve spent a lot of time in Belfast.”
“A lot of time in Belfast,” Harington confirmed.
“It’s wonderful for two or three days,” he added.
“And you’ve been there for years?”
“Five years,” Harington said, to tittering from the audience.
He tried to backtrack a bit, with “No, no, I have to be careful what I say…”
To which Myers replied. “Ohhh, I wouldn’t worry about people from Belfast…”
Then Harington made the remarks that have landed him in trouble, though he did also fit in a dig at his own TV show.
“[Northern Ireland] has got a wonderful tourist board – they celebrate three things. Having the most bombed hotel in Europe, which is great.
"They built the Titanic which is a ship that sunk [sic] on its maiden voyage, and now they have 'Game of Thrones,' the most depressing TV show in history.
"So it's a wonderfully depressing tourist board."
Fans immediately picked up on Harington’s remarks, voicing their disappointment on Twitter.
Many also took issue with Seth Myers’ decision to steer the conversation in that direction.
@sethmeyers Everything you said about Belfast with Kit Harington was arrogant, ignorant and offensive. Unsure which of you is more of a prat— Bronagh McCann (@Bronagh_McCann) April 8, 2015
One tourism account, Visit Belfast, managed to put a positive spin on things.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board replied yesterday, via a spokeswoman:
"Belfast and Northern Ireland is recognized as a great short break destination. Belfast was recently voted, for a fourth consecutive year, by TripAdvisor as one of the UK’s top 10 best destinations among travelers from around the world.
"In recent years significant investment into our tourism infrastructure has created unique visitor experiences.
"This includes Titanic Belfast which was recently named Europe’s number one visitor attraction and since its opening in 2012 has exceeded visitor number expectations, attracting over 2 million visitors from across 145 countries."
She also called “Game of Thrones” a "key asset and a key area for growth in Northern Ireland."
This is not the first time someone connected to “Game of Thrones” has trash-talked Belfast. Last summer, HBO executive Michael Lombardo implied that the cast and crew were not thrilled with spending six months out of the year in Northern Ireland.
“Belfast is not the most cosmopolitan of cities to spend half the year,” he said.
“It’s a little bit of a personal challenge; I don’t think they contemplated when we initially found our location in Belfast, what that meant for them personally.
“I don’t think they have a hard time, but the good news is work keeps them busy, let’s just say that.”
He later issued a public apology saying, “I meant no offense to the city of Belfast and offer my apologies.”