Accusations that Game Of Thrones uses rape and violence against women as character development have been dismissed as nonsense by the head of content at broadcaster Sky.
Gary Davey, managing director of content at the channels, said he felt like he had been defending sex and violence on TV for most of his adult life.
Discussing depictions of both in a debate between channel controllers at the Edinburgh international TV festival, Davey said the violence in fantasy drama Game Of Thrones, which airs on Sky Atlantic in the UK and is filmed largely in Northern Ireland, applies just as much to male characters.
He said: “Part of the issue is context ... Sky Atlantic is a good example, people know what to expect. It’s challenging content, whether it’s story structure or indeed the sex and violence, the context matters.
“It’s interesting that this year with season six of Game Of Thrones, which was very intense, out of the seven million households that watched, we had three complaints.”
Questioned specifically about the rape of the character Sansa Stark on her wedding night, which was a particularly controversial plotline and was even mentioned in the US senate, Davey denied it was used as character development.
He said: “I think that is nonsense. I think that is there is an awful lot of violence to men.
“For anyone who has watched the show, it can be a very violent show. I don’t think the violence to women is particularly highlighted, it’s just part of the story. The rape happens, it’s party of the story, it was in the book. We are now past the book and the story is evolving,”
Davey also denied there were plans to move away from violent scenes now the show has got further than George RR Martin’s source material.
He said: “Our audience knows what to expect on Sky Atlantic and we have sophisticated pin protection.”