Game of Thrones boss describes Belfast as 'not the most cosmopolitan of cities'

Michael Lombardo's comments come after Northern Ireland presented HBO with its global ambassador award

The producers of hit HBO series Game of Thrones were apparently less than enthralled with having to spend six months in Northern Ireland for filming, after the president of programming described Belfast as “not the most cosmopolitan of cities to spend half the year".

The disparaging comment was reportedly made by Michael Lombardo during an interview with US magazine Vulture, where he claimed showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff found it a "personal challenge" to live in Northern Ireland.

His remarks come just a month after the Northern Ireland Tourist Board presented the network, which has received grants of more than £10 million to film in Northern Ireland, with its "global ambassador" award.

The interviewer asked Lombardo if he felt daunted at the prospect of potentially filming an eighth Game of Thrones series after author George R.R. Martin announced he might consider extending the series.

Four of the series have been filmed in Belfast, and filming is due to start on a fifth.

Mr Lombardo told the magazine: “I just hope Dan and David are still game. 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.

"Belfast is not the most cosmopolitan of cities to spend half of the year.”

When the interviewer inquired if both of the showrunners are “having a hard time”, he responds with: “I don't think they have a hard time, but the good news is work keeps them busy, let's just say that.”

Both Benioff and Weiss were markedly more enthusiastic about the finale of the fourth series, which they described as the best finale we’ve ever done, bar none,” – so good, in fact, they feel a “little intimidated by the episode because now we have to get back to the business of season five and figure out a way to top it.”