Screen production on the ‘biggest set in the world’: Northern Ireland Screen and the case of Game of Thrones

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The publicly funded screen development agency, Northern Ireland Screen, has been the key institutional actor in the exponential growth of the screen industries in Northern Ireland. The most prominent production to be based in Northern Ireland has been Home Box Office’s Game of Thrones, which had much of its eight seasons filmed in the region. Significant amounts of public finance have been offered to the screen industries, with direct funding provided to augment United Kingdom-wide tax breaks. However, there has been a lack of critical analysis of the recipients of this finance, on the precarious nature of many of the jobs that have been created, or on the stated benefits to the economy. This article subjects the role of Northern Ireland Screen to policy analysis to attempt to fill this scholarly gap. Setting the subject into the context of public support for film and television across the United Kingdom, it is argued that the economic argument for providing direct financial support to the screen industries needs to be viewed in the context of the overall impact on society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-862
Number of pages18
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number6
Early online date7 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2019


  • film and television production
  • Game of Thrones
  • Northern Ireland Screen
  • policy analysis
  • screen industries
  • tax relief


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