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Creator of Vikings attacks ‘gratuitous' Game of Thrones

King Ragnar played by Travis Fimmel in Vikings. Season four of the series is available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video with episodes released weekly 
Helen Pye, Press Association

VIKINGS creator Michael Hirst slammed Game Of Thrones for its "gratuitous" sex as he defended a graphic sado-masochistic scene in his own show.

Vikings, which features much less nudity than Game Of Thrones because of US network TV regulations, shocked fans at the end of the third series when Count Odo, played by Irish actor Owen Roe, was seen whipping a naked French noblewoman (The Fall's Karen Hassan) in his dungeon.

But Hirst, who also penned bodice-ripper The Tudors, promised there would be a "pay-off" for viewers from the storyline when the show returns for a fourth series on Friday.

He said: "I feel like a lot of other people that sex in Game Of Thrones and other shows is completely gratuitous and unnecessary and a lot of the violence is gratuitous...It's largely to shock."

He argued that the use of BDSM in Vikings was part of "a big storyline, a big pay-off. It's part of (Odo's) character so it's not gratuitous."

The fourth series picks up after the Battle of Paris when Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) has returned to Kattegat and his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) remains in France with the promise of land and titles in exchange for marrying Princess Gisla.

The new series is the longest yet at 20 episodes.

It will include an eight-year time jump that will take the Vikings to new lands such as Turkey and introduce new characters including Ragnar's love interest, Chinese slave Yidu (Dianne Doan).

Hirst said he "always thought of this as Ragnar and sons" and the fourth series see the rise of Ragnar's bloodthirsty son Ivar the Boneless into the Viking fray.

Even without the time jump, Fimmel said the show's demanding stunts had "aged" him.

He said: "This year, I'll probably stretch a bit more. I feel like I'm getting old, I feel like the show's aged me a bit."

Fimmel, who takes the lead in upcoming film Warcraft, directed by Duncan Jones, kept frustratingly tight-lipped about whether he would be leaving the show this series as has been rumoured.

In the history books, Ragnar died in a snake pit at the hands of King Aella of Northumbria.

"I'm not exactly sure about the snake thing, that seems to be the way (Ragnar) dies in history. We'll see what Michael writes. I'm hoping maybe an orgy," he joked.

Vikings season four launches on Amazon Prime Video from February 19, with new episodes releasing weekly.

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