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Set secrets to be revealed during Heritage Open Days

Suzanne McGonagle s.mcgonagle@irishnews.com

FANS of global fantasy series Game of Thrones will today be able to find out just how the locations for the massive TV hit are chosen by the man who scouts for the best locations in Northern Ireland.

Robbie Boake will be at Castle Ward Mansion in Downpatrick, Co Down to tell visitors about transforming the 17th century farmyard into Winterfell for the hit HBO series.

It is all part of this weekend's European Heritage Open Days (EHOD), which will see the doors of hundreds of museums, castles, churches, private houses and cottages flung open.

More than 400 properties and events of cultural and historical interest will be open to the public, free of charge, across the north.

And for the first time the events will include talks about historic properties that are also film sets for productions such as Game of Thrones, The Fall and Dracula Untold.

Mr Boake last night told The Irish News of how the north's picturesque scenery had captured his heart after he began scouting locations of for Game of Thrones since it began six years ago.

The massive television series has been filmed in several locations in the north, including Antrim Plateau, Tollymore Forest Park, Murlough Bay and Ballintoy Harbour.

The South African-born locations manager said: "They have all been very different but have informed the story.

"There are such fantastic ruins and landscapes in Northern Ireland, lovely rolling hills. The coast of Antrim is a place with so many options available."

Mr Boake said the EHOD event will see him discuss with visitors why Northern Ireland has some of the best film locations in the world.

"I guess I'll be explaining what I do in choosing a location, "he said.

"It's my job to find the location, photograph it as per the script and show it to the producers to see if it captures what they are looking for.

"Part of it is also as a thank-you to the Environment Agency, who we work very closely with."

Another hit drama set to draw crowds of fans in Belfast is The Fall with its location manager also due to speak to fans.

Andrew Wilson will be giving a talk and answering questions about the BBC Two series at one of the north's most iconic buildings - Crumlin Road, which was used in the filming.

Location manager Catherine Geary, who has worked on Philomena and the James Bond film Skyfall, will also be giving a talk in Co Down.

The main focus of the event at Mount Stewart House on the Ards Peninsula will be Dracula Untold, which was filmed at the National Trust property.

Environment minister Mark H Durkan said: "Our historic environment is hugely beneficial to our cultural and economic well being, and these are wonderful days out for people of all ages".

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