HBO's mission to employ every single actor in the British Isles in Game of Thrones relentlessly continues with a brace of new casting announcements.
First up, a familiar face. Roy Dotrice was originally cast for Season 1 in the role of Grand Maester Pycelle, but had to pull out due to ill health. He was replaced at short notice by Julian Glover. Dotrice will likely need little introduction to Song of Ice and Fire fans, as he read the audio books for the first three and the fifth novels in the series, meaning he has already played every character in the books to date! He recently was awarded a Guinness World Record for playing more roles in an audiobook than any single other reader (the Wheel of Time audiobooks may have presented a challenge, but they use two readers who divide the characters between them). Dotrice has also appeared in films such as Amadeus and Hellboy 2, and TV series such as Space: 1999, Babylon 5 and Beauty and the Beast, where he first met George R.R. Martin.
Dotrice has been cast in the role of Hallyne, the head of the Guild of Alchemists in King's Landing, a noted 'pyromancer' who makes the acquaintance of Tyrion Lannister after his arrival in the city. Hallyne and his guild have a slighly worrying obsession with 'the substance', wildfire, but are the only people in Westeros trained to create and handle it.
Hannah Murray is a young British actress who made a name for herself on the first two seasons of the British drama series Skins. She was a popular fan suggestion for the role of Daenerys Targaryen for the first season.
On Thrones, Murray has been cast in the role of Gilly. Gilly is one of the daughters of Craster, a tyrannical old man who lives out beyond the Wall. Gilly is desperately unhappy living at Craster's Keep and hopes for an opportunity to leave.
Playing Craster is veteran Welsh actor Robert Pugh. A familiar face from British television, Pugh has appeared in series such as Silent Witness, Shameless, Torchwood, Doctor Who, Clocking Off and Hustle, as well as movies including Robin Hood, The Last Legion, Kingdom of Heaven and Master and Commander.
Craster is a wildling living beyond the Wall, but is friendly towards the Night's Watch, giving their rangers shelter in his keep. Despite this service, members of the Night's Watch find Craster distasteful, particularly the unsavoury nature of his relationship with his daughters and the absence of any sons.
Karl Davies is a young British actor, noted for his roles in popular soap opera Emmerdale and co-starring with Stephen Fry on the legal series Kingdom.
Davies is playing the role of Alton Lannister. This appears to be a new role created for the television series. The nature of the character remains unknown, though fansites have speculated that he may be replacing the character of Cleos Frey, a cousin of Jaime Lannister (via Tywin's sister, who is married to a Frey) who is captured in battle by the Starks and used as a go-between, carrying messages, terms and threats back and forth between the Stark and Lannister armies. This remains to be confirmed, however.
Ben Crompton is an established British actor with TV credits including Clocking Off, Dalziel and Pascoe, Heartbeat and the Terry Pratchett mini-series Going Postal.
In Thrones Crompton has been cast in the fan-favourite role of 'Dolorous' Edd Tollett, a member of the Night's Watch noted for his pessimistic sense of humour. He serves as Lord Commander Jeor Mormont's squire and becomes a friend and ally of Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly during their dangerous mission beyond the Wall.
Michael McElhatton is an Irish actor with a career in film, television and on stage. His most recent roles were in the TV series Mystery!, Zen and Your Bad Self.
In Thrones McElhatton plays Roose Bolton, Lord of the Dreadfort and a bannerman to Robb Stark. House Bolton is noted for many centuries of enmity to the Starks before they were finally cowed in several wars. Roose Bolton is noted as a canny strategist and for his sense of cunning, but he is also merciless and brutal to his enemies, and is one of the most ruthless of Robb's followers. He has a bastard son, Ramsay Snow, who is also expected to appear in the second season.