By Lucy Cotter and Victoria Seabrook, entertainment reporters
Former chancellor George Osborne has told Sky News that he is delighted that tax reliefs that he introduced led to Game of Thrones being produced in the UK.
Under the scheme, TV productions with a budget of at least £1m per hour of slot length are eligible for refunds of up to a quarter of their production costs in their UK.
The amount of spend on high end TV production has almost trebled in just five years, from £414.9m in 2013 to £1.17bn in 2018, according to the BFI.
In fact last year an impressive 119 high end TV titles were shot in the UK; shows such as The Crown, Krypton, The Rook, The Spanish Princess, and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
For Belfast in particular Game of Thrones has brought hundreds of workers into the industry and helped transform the city's production infrastructure.
The legacy of nearly a decade of shooting the show is a raft of skilled workers who have gone on to be employed on big budget dramas such as Line of Duty and the Fall.
The tax relief policy was first introduced in Northern Ireland shortly after HBO had made the first series of Game of Thrones.
More from Game Of Thrones
It was a successful incentive as HBO remained in Northern Ireland to shoot the majority of the subsequent seven series.
As chancellor in 2013, Osborne rolled out the policy to the rest of the UK.
He told Sky News: "I'm delighted that so much of that show has been filmed in Britain.
"And that the high end TV tax break has helped because it's not just about stars or indeed the tourism brings to places like NI it's all the people involved in set design and make up and costume and the production."
Adrian Wootten, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, told Sky News that Game of Thrones became a "poster child" for how well the tax breaks could work and helped attract a huge influx of major players in the TV industry such as Netflix and Warner Brothers.
He said: "I think it's nothing less than revolutionary. We've seen this extraordinary explosion of production which is fantastic for the UK as a whole.
"It's meant that there's been new employment opportunities all over the UK, new studios springing up, new infrastructure springing up, new companies springing up to service the demand."
Talking about Game of Thrones, the Mr Osborne revealed his favourite character is Cersei Lannister, saying: "As a former chancellor I always thought the Lannister's had a point about them, settling debts."
He added: "I know this is going to be a controversial thing to say – obviously the dragon queen is wonderful and all of that – but Cersei Lannister has had a pretty tough life. She's a woman in a man's world, surrounded by controlling husbands and brothRead More – Source