Why Is Game of Thrones So Damn Popular?

No one can dispute that HBO really have hit the jackpot with Game of Thrones. For the past 5 years, millions of devoted fans have tuned in eager to watch the next instalment.

This season has been no different. Even the slaughter of most of the initial cast hasn’t deterred support. No other TV show has killed off so many popular and unpopular cast members and survived. So what makes this myriad of medieval hardship, nudity, fortuitous sex and violence so damn popular?

RELATED: Game of Thrones Star The New Face of Karen Millen

The setting

This fictional land created for Game of Thrones resembles the past but has an element of fantasy. There’s Kings Landing where the throne sits. This is where the struggle for power and domination reign supreme. There’s the wall. A cold bleak place inhabited predominately by men. Forgotten by society this misfitted bunch of protectors have a reasonably grim existence.

North of the wall white walkers and wild-lings live. It’s a dangerous place. Then there’s the foreign lands being freed of slavery one city at a time. Plus ancient places where dragons once inhabited with gigantic ancient structures in ruins. Combined it’s a perfect setting for this epic story to unfold.

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The costumes

Game of Thrones wouldn’t be at all believable if the cast weren’t transformed into their fantasy land with flawless costumes. When photographed in their civil attire away from the office their characters instantly shrink away. Take Sophie Turner for example. Gracing the catwalk for Karen Millen she looks nothing like her popular character Sansa Stark who’s costumes are spoken off regularly.

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The cast

This eclectic group of the young and the old, the hot and the homely and the tall and the short really do bring the characters of Game of Thrones to life. Image for a second that Tyrion Lannister aka The Imp or The Halfman wasn’t played by the extraordinary Peter Dinklage? Or that Daenerys Targaryen aka The Mother of Dragons wasn’t played by the stunning Emilia Clarke. In fact many fans have come to know the characters so well that their real names remain a mystery!

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The story

Keeping fans on the edge of their seats and coming back for more, the story behind the Game of Thrones has kept viewers thoroughly entertained. They can appreciate loosing yet another long term cast member if the story continues to develop. For example the Stark Family, where the story began has dwindled down to all but a few precious souls. Spread throughout the lands each has endured their own hardship and hellish journey since the beginning.

Other characters are then carefully introduced to take their place in our heart or in our nightmares. Each one then has a journey of their own to tell amid following the plot of who will eventually take over the precious throne.

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The throne

The throne has become an international icon. Not an ordinary seat by any means. This creative structure is the foundation of the story, even if viewers become too captivated with the latest installment and temporarily forget for a moment that the entire plot centers around the quest for the throne. Obviously this is where the story will lead.

However the twists and turns, challenges and triumphs along the way make it very clear that the destination isn’t necessarily the most interesting part of the journey. Viewers are very content at the moment to put thoughts of the throne aside as they watch the struggle for power and preservation unfold.

Who will end up on the throne? Right now it’s anyone’s guess and what’s the bet it will take a few years yet to be decided. It certainly doesn’t look like this popular TV saga is going to conclude any time soon. Luckily viewers have been assured season 6 is being organised and HBO will continue to enjoy this success for quite a while longer.

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Feature image via watchersonthewall.com

Q&A with Celebrity Chef Matt Moran

Celebrity chef and leading restaurateur, Matt Moran, ditches the chef whites and embarks on a foodie adventure, that sees him get down and dirty, discovering some of the best produce and farmers the east coast of Australia has to offer in his brand new series, Paddock to Plate, on Foxtel’s Lifestyle Channel.

After 20-odd years in the industry, the series sees Matt encounter a few food ‘firsts’ – milking a fresh water salmon; spit roasting a rare breed black pig; facing his fear of bees and sharks; truffle hunting; making goat cheese; cooking and tasting ostrich for the first time.

Matt reveals to SHE’SAID’ why his journey of discovery was not only exciting but at times, an emotional one.

Do you think country folk make better chefs/cooks because they have more of an affinity with the land and produce?
Nope! The reason being, I grew up on the land and everyone says to me ‘Geez Matt, you’re a good cook. You must have that romantic story to tell about cooking alongside your Grandmother and your mother…’ But no. I grew up eating meat and three veg. My Grandmother – who was the most beautiful woman in the world, God bless her soul – I reckon she used to put the lamb roast on the day before I got there and the Brussels sprouts on three days before! I tell people I think I started cooking so I could actually get a decent meal!

In an ideal world, do you think all apprentice chefs should do a similar journey to what you have just done to discover where fabulous produce comes from & the passion of the people behind it?
No! I want to keep it all to myself (laughs). My food knowledge is probably better than average, I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years, I live, breathe all things food but the amount I learnt every day, whether it was big or little things, was unbelievable. I had been using this produce for years and sometimes you take it for granted, you really do. Doing this show, sparked something in my brain, my love for food has skyrocketed since.

The series really takes you back to your country roots. Was there any emotional moments for you?
I’m a big, beefy, boofy guy but there really were some emotional moments for me. Lola and Mal Orr, digging potatoes out of the ground at 70 years of age (Episode 3, Wednesday November 20), fifth-generation potato farmers with an annual income of 25 grand, sitting on land worth absolutely millions and millions of dollars. They could sell it, put the money in the bank and live off the interest for rest of their lives. When I asked them why they did it, they said “Because we love it!” That makes you emotional.

Going back to the farm I was born on in Tamworth (Episode 7, Wednesday December 18), that made me emotional.

Cooking all this amazing food made me emotional. It’s a feel-good show.

Every episode there are mind-blowing stories. The real heroes are the people I meet. Incredibly passionate human beings who love what they do. It’s not about the money, it’s about producing the best thing they can. It brought tears to my eyes. Professionally, it was the best 3 months of my life. I feel blessed and am incredibly grateful I got to do it.

Although you’ve been a chef for 25 or so years, the series introduced a few food ‘firsts’ for you…what was the most memorable or surprising?
It was bucket list stuff! Digging for truffles! Getting abalone off the bottom of Bass Strait! Making Holy Goat cheese, it goes on and on! Riding a horse in the Snowy Mountains and cooking the crew bacon and eggs over an open fire on the Snowy River. None stand out more than the other. Every episode was incredible.

Why is it important for Australian’s to know where their food comes from?
People want to know. It’s not a trend or fad. People want to know what they’re eating, where it comes from, how it was grown, whether it’s sustainable, whether it’s been looked after, whether it’s been killed properly. Brands are becoming more popular. People recognise brands and know what’s what. People’s food knowledge has improved a lot in 20 years.

Do you think the large supermarket chains have a lot to answer for?
I can’t go there…but what you’re seeing now, are people being independent. People like Peel Valley Milk in Tamworth, when they got deregulated, owner and dairy farmer Malcolm mortgaged himself to the hilt and built himself a factory. He’s got this super breed of Jersey cows – you put a fork in his cream and it stands up! He pasteurises the milk himself, he bottles the milk himself and he goes out and sells it himself. You can buy it for the same price – or even cheaper – than what you can buy milk at Coles or Woolworths. I am telling you, you don’t taste milk like that anywhere else. It’s incredible, it really is.

How can the average Australian shop and cook more seasonally and locally?
Farmers markets. Talk to the people who are actually growing it and doing it. Learn about what you’re eating. Find out what’s the best. And the folk growing it also often know how to cook it too!

The perception of small artisan producers is that their produce is expensive. For families on a budget, how would you encourage them to support local farmers/businesses and utilise the produce in their weekly meal planning?
I don’t think they’re more expensive. You’re helping them. Farmers certainly aren’t greedy.

If you are on a budget, what are the ‘must have’ pantry or fridge items you need to splash out on to improve the taste of your cooking?
You need a good oil, good butter and good salt. Coming into summer and BBQs, start using secondary cuts. Don’t get lamb chops, get a leg or a shoulder, bone it out, marinate it and whack that on the BBQ. It’s going to taste better and it’s not going to break the bank.

Did this journey improve you as a chef?
I think it improved me as a person! (laughs) I love food and I have done a lot of reality shows – and don’t get me wrong, I am grateful beyond belief for what those shows have done for me and my profile which helped me make Paddock to Plate – I wanted to get back to cooking. I am a cook. The integrity of the produce, these beautiful people and it’s shot beautifully.

Will we be seeing anything from the series on plates at Aria or Chiswick?
Chiswick maybe. It’s not Aria food. I tried to keep the integrity of what we were doing. It’s simple food. Everyone can relate to it, get something out of it and be able to do it themselves.

You only covered the east coast of Australia…do you have plans to venture further afield?
I am a very ambitious person – everyone knows that! I wouldn’t have seven restaurants and businesses if I wasn’t ambitious. When we looked at doing this series, we thought if this is successful, we need to carve Australia up. We did Victoria and a little of NSW in the first series. There’s Tassie, South Australia, Western Australia, Far North Queensland  and the Outback all needing a series of their own.

How do you find the time to do everything you do?
I am very lucky. I have a very understanding family. I have amazing people who have been with me for 15 years and believe in what I do, which allows me to go off and do those things. It all regenerates back into the businesses. People say ‘Well, Matt if you’re not at Aria, who’s cooking?’ and I say ‘The same people who cook when I am there!’ I was filming this in two week stints. It’s my love and my passion.

Christmas is just around the corner…what do we need to be putting on our tables to support local producers? What products/dishes from the series are perfect for Christmas?
The Tamworth episode (episode 7, Wednesday December 18) is a bit of a Christmas episode. We used Quast Turkeys. I am a traditionalist. I love turkey and ham with all the trimmings for Christmas. I cook all day in the kitchen on Christmas Day. Those Quast Turkeys were some of the best turkeys I’ve tasted in my life!

Paddock to Plate, starts Wednesday November 6 at 8.30pm, The Lifestyle Channel on Foxtel. 

Naomi Campbell and The Face Come to Australia

There are Supermodels, there are Ubermodels and then there’s Naomi Campbell.

A Supermodel’s Ubermodel. The very definition of fierce.

Reknowned for her lateness, her unbelievable beauty, cheekbones, bee-stung lips and that killer body, Naomi Campbell is heading to Australia in early November to begin production on her modelling reality show The Face.

Already a smash hit in the US and UK, The Face is a modelling competition like no other.

Naomi, who is co-executive producer as well as modelling ‘mentor’ (don’t call her a ‘judge’) will lead the local charge to hunt for the ‘face’ of a major Australian brand. The show’s host and Naomi’s two other model ‘mentors’ are yet to be announced but the buzz is already building.

The buzz, naturally, is focusing on Campbell, who at 43 has been strutting the runway and striking poses for 27 years – a feat unheard of in the youth obsessed fashion industry.

The modelling icon, known for her diva antics and difficult persona, is perhaps just misunderstood.

“I’m very direct.” She says. “Am I bossy? Absolutely. I don’t like to lose, and if I’m told no then I find another way to get my yes. But I’m a loyal person. And I’m generous and I don’t bullshit.”

Whilst Naomi paints herself as a protective ‘mother hen’ to her girls, she admits she practises tough love and discipline with a healthy dose of encouragement.

“No, I’m not a friend. When I came on board, I agreed to be a mentor, not a friend. We care about our girls – that’s just a normal thing to happen. But in order for you to have some type of authority, you can’t be a friend,” said Naomi, in a recent interview with UK InStyle.

“I’m straight up, I’m honest. When my girls do something great, I praise them and pamper them. And when they do something wrong I’m gonna tell them. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, because they’re not going to get it sugarcoated in the real world. Everyone makes mistakes but you have to learn from those mistakes if you want to get on.” She recently told The Guardian Weekend.

Campbell was discovered as a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Streatham, south London in 1985. She was spotted by a model agent as she window-shopped in Covent Garden and before she turned 16, she was on the cover of British Elle.

When Naomi struts the catwalk now, she is a special guest of the designer, like recently when she opened and closed at the Versace haute couture show in July in Paris. But it was the late 80s to mid 90s that Naomi believes was the golden age to be a model.

“In my era we’d get a phone call from John (Galliano) before the show: this is what the show’s about, what do you think? And we’d talk about it; we knew what the inspiration was, we really understood the collection and where the designer was coming from and so knew what kind of vibe to have,” She told The Guardian Weekend.

Naomi believes, as the fashion industry has expanded, models have been sidelined.

“If we [Christy, Naomi, Linda, Cindy etc] were on a different level to the models now, that’s because we had a relationship with the designers, so it was a real collaboration. And the photographers too – we were so close to Steven Meisel, to Mario [Testino]. When I started, the designers saw you in castings and chose you. We went for dinner and hung out. Now you’ve got casting directors, and production. There’s more of a gap between the model and the designer, because there are all these other people in the middle.”

Naomi is insistent on the word ‘mentor’. The word ‘judge’ does not sit well with her.

“I like the word mentor. I don’t want to judge someone. I like sharing my knowledge with my girls, and anything they ask me I’ll try to do to help them. Any of my real friends who know me, know that’s how I am.”

One of Naomi’s recent tweets about heading to Australia: ‘I can’t wait to get to Australia to start my search for The Face! Here I come @FOX8tv #TheFaceAU’

Are you going to watch The Face Australia with Naomi Campbell?