Sean Bean has signed up to star in A Game of Thrones for HBO, the first in the Song of Ice And Fire series of novels by George RR Martin, which the channel is adapting for the screen. He's set to play the lead, Eddard Stark, with Mark Addy said to be on the verge of signing on as King Robert Baratheon of Westeros.
The tricksy-turny series starts as the King and his family come to visit the Starks' home. Eddard is pressurised by his old friend Robert to return South with him and act as the King's adviser - something that Robert's in-laws, the Lannister family, are unlikely to take kindly to.
Add in a spot of conspiracy, incest, child murder, corruption, conspiracy and conspiracy - not to mention a rival claimant to the throne across the sea, the still-festering legacy of a civil war 20 years before, a growing threat in the North from...something and the prospect of a winter lasting several years on its way, and you've got a fantasy with little or no magic but a heck of a lot of intrigue. Think Deadwood with broadswords and maybe - maybe - less swearing.
Kit Harrington (from WarHorse, on the London stage) will play Jon Snow, Stark's bastard son*; Jack Gleeson (the fear-afflicted little boy in Batman Begins) will play Robert's cowardly son, Prince Joffrey; and Harry Lloyd (Will Scarlett in TV's Robin Hood) will play Viserys, the dethroned crown prince now in exile and manoeuvering his child sister into a marriage that could restore his fortunes. Peter Dinklage is already aboard as Tyrion Lannister, the sinister and deformed brother-in-law of the King.
Tom McCarthy is directing from a script by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. If it's half as good as the books, it's going to be ace - and on the strength of this cast, it's going to deliver. Colour us excited.
* Or is he? It's one of those series.