Wanted: NI amputees for major US TV series

image captionGame of Thrones is expected to be broadcast next year

Starstruck amputees are being offered a golden opportunity to be on television.

A Northern Ireland casting company is looking for amputees to take part in epic fantasy adventure series, Game of Thrones, which is being filmed in Belfast.

Local company, Extras NI, also wants a lot of dark, hairy people for the production to begin in July.

US broadcaster HBO, the company that produced the Sopranos, Sex and the City and Rome, is behind the project based on the books by George R R Martin.

The casting instructions are clear; men who want a part as an extra should keep growing their hair and their facial hair immediately and be prepared to leave it that way until January 2011.

The demand for suitably hairy extras has been so great that some had to be recruited from local heavy metal message boards.

People who have medieval skills are also in demand.

Long, dark-haired women, particularly those who have a Hispanic or Latin look, are also invited to come forward at an open-casting session which will be held on Saturday 26 June 2010 at the Holiday Inn, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast, between 1400 and 1800 BST.

Male and female horseriders will be selected at a separate session by the casting company, Horse Master, in Lisburn - those who apply must own their own horse.

The call went out as Northern Ireland Screen announced that Armagh man Brian Kirk is to direct two episodes of the series.

image captionSean Bean plays Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is said to feature realistic battles and is pitched as "The Sopranos in Middle Earth".

Location filming has also taken place in Scotland and Morocco, amid fevered internet anticipation among fantasy fans.

The series will be shot on a huge set at Belfast's Paint Hall Studio in the Titanic Quarter, as well as various locations throughout Northern Ireland.

It will star Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Alfie Allen, the brother of pop star Lily Allen.

Coleraine actress Michelle Fairley was recently cast as Catelyn Stark, wife of Eddard Stark, who is played by Sean Bean.

The makers' long-term ambition is for each novel in the series to fuel a season's worth of episodes.

The government estimates the series will generate £20m for the local economy.

Filming for the nine-part series is expected to last until the end of the year, with the show going to air next spring.

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