Written by Susan Calman


To Westeros, via the 02

Susan Calman was one of the first fans through the door when Sky’s special Game of Thrones exhibition opened at the O2. Was she wild(ling) about it?

John Bradley officially opened Game of Thrones: The Exhibition at Sky Backstage. The actor plays Samwell Tarly in the show, the fifth series of which premieres exclusively on Sky Atlantic this Spring.

Standard Issue works in a very fluid way. The editors will often email contributors asking if anyone is interested in a particular subject and then sit back and wait for those who are most invested. When a message popped up, “Does anyone enjoy Game of Thrones”, I nearly vomited with excitement. Why? Because I don’t like Game of Thrones, I love it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say I wasn’t that keen on the blood and sweat saga when I first saw it. I watched the show because my wife had read all the books and insisted I join in the visual realisation of her favourite novels. And I did, because love means watching something you don’t want to because your partner does.

I struggled a bit with the first series. There was so much sexposition (that’s conversation that takes place during sex for no apparent reason) and so many bare breasts I was more than a little bit embarrassed. But then, slowly and surely, I was hooked. Now I own several “GoT” t-shirts, a “Crows before Hoes” mug and have a (not-so-secret) desire to actually be Daenerys Targaryen.

My mission was simple, go to the O2 in London to an interactive exhibition celebrating everything that is Throneworld. Not being a native of London, I studied the Tube map, packed my rucksack and set off much like Bran Stark. And yes, that’s a niche reference. You’re welcome.

The first thing that you need to know is that this isn’t an exhibition you can just rock up to. The website states it’s for Sky customers “and a lucky friend”. So I suspect you need to apply for tickets online and check the terms and conditions. I know I sound like your mother but I don’t want you turning up and being disappointed.

The second thing to be aware of is that there are a lot of stairs up to the exhibition. I’m sure there are lifts and the like but if you have accessibility issues, make sure you make someone aware of it when you arrive, as once you’re in it’s a stairway to heaven (nearly).

Picture by Susan Calman

My third suggestion is, do find someone to go with. I found it a little bit embarrassing to constantly ask people to take my photo next to exhibits, and I suspect the whole experience would be more fun if you had someone to talk to. I just looked slightly hysterical standing next to Daenerys Targaryen’s dress wondering if I could steal it.

In other information-related news, the start times are staggered (to prevent overcrowding I suspect) and they suggest you should allow an hour to experience the whole thing. So, it’s well organised, something I always admire.

So what did I think? Well it’s very much aimed at the hard-core fan. You can have your picture taken with costumes, dragon eggs and even a white walker (see my awful selfie). There are a number of interactive elements as well, which are a lot of fun. You can have a picture taken with a dragon breathing fire in your face and also enjoy a full 4D experience wearing a pair of fancy looking goggles. I would have investigated this for you all but as I was queuing a woman screamed. So I left. Sorry.

Susan and a White Walker.

The staff are very friendly and cheerful and I’m sure as the exhibition gets into the swing of it there won’t be the groups of slightly nervous looking drama students dressed up as various Starks and Lannisters hanging around. And I hope not because the lovely young people were the source of my only real complaint.
At the end of the tour you can get the chance to sit on the Iron Throne. Fans of the show will know that’s a pretty excellent photo opportunity and I was very much looking forward to getting the picture for my next Christmas card.
I waited for about 20 minutes while a rep or some such took pictures of said drama students in costume. Then they all took pictures of each other, then pictures of them taking pictures of each other. If I had been in charge of the exhibition, I would have made sure the large queue of geeks standing waiting were allowed the photo opportunity first. Because it’s people like us who watch the show and get over excited.

After half an hour of queuing, I left without my photo, a slightly disappointed nerd.

In summary, I’d say it’s a lot of fun, extremely cool for a Thrones fan but take a friend who loves the show as much as you do. Otherwise it falls just a little bit flat.

Game of Thrones: The Exhibition the 02 in London is open from February 9-12 and then 15-17. Find out more here.

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Written by Susan Calman

Susan is a comedian and writer who sometimes appears on things like the News Quiz and QI.