The long wait is nearly over for UK Game Of Thrones fans, but anticipation will be heightened after the fifth season screened in the US to rave reviews.
But the show’s return was marred by a leak of the first four episodes online, which HBO announced it was investigating.
An HBO statement, reported by Buzzfeed, said: “Sadly it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of Game Of Thrones originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them. We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred.”
Sophie Turner and Aidan Gillen as Sansa Stark and Littlefinger in Game Of Thrones (HBO)
Anyone waiting for tonight’s UK premiere of the hit HBO show would do well to avoid the internet where spoilers abound, but fans are likely to be satisfied, with one major character reportedly being killed off and plenty of trademark dragon-based special effects.
The British talent in America’s most-watched series of all time come to the fore again in the first new episode, with Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey, Jon Snow, played by Kit Harrington, and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen all featuring.
Time magazine said although the plot deviated from the source books, the A Song Of Fire And Ice series by George RR Martin, it had ‘started to outgrow its parents’.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Jaime Lannister in Game Of Thrones (HBO)
“As the series moves past the book on some storylines and changes others to better suit the screen, for the first time readers are as likely to be surprised by what happens as non-readers,” it said. “And it is still a magnificent beast: bold, confident and venturing off in new directions.”
The New York Times said: “It was a scene-setter episode that was more chatty than bloody, with a couple of exceptions.”
The Radio Times, which had seen an advanced screening last month, said: “While there is one major death in the first episode, this first instalment of series five will have fans of the show gripped as we catch up with everyone and prepare to take things forward.
“And though it would probably feel entirely baffling and uneventful to first-timers, my appetite was well and truly whetted.”
Deobia Opaeri as Areo Hotah in Game Of Thrones (HBO)
But the Independent sounded a note of disappointment, although it said the writing and production values ‘remain superb’.
It said: “The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a 10-episode series. And with more players than your average primary school to give airtime to, it’s no wonder matters feel rather rushed. Five seasons into Game Of Thrones it is no wonder the focus has become rather blurred.”
The first episode of season five will be shown on Sky Atlantic at 9pm tonight (April 13).