Earlier this year, it was revealed that only a third of the BBC’s top earners are women – and that its highest-paid male star, Chris Evans, earned a whopping £2.2 million last year, while the highest-paid woman, Claudia Winkleman, made £450,000.
It was a shockingly huge disparity, there’s no doubt about it. And yet, sadly, the news was not all that surprising: in the UK alone, the gender pay gap is currently at 18.1% – the lowest on record.
So, when we learned that the wages of Game of Thrones’ biggest stars had been published, we were all ears: after all, the show has sparked controversy in the past over its portrayal of its female characters – would all of that so-called “misogyny” that seep into the behind-the-scenes action, too?
Well, apparently not.
Variety has published its 2017 salary survey (a “sampling of estimates” for the pay cheques of TV's most notable stars), which featured the likes of Emilia Clarke (Daenerys), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion), Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Lena Headey (Cersei).
Somewhat surprisingly, all five stars make the exact same amount per episode: $500,000 (approximately £390,050).
Yes, you read that correctly: Clarke and co are said to get paid half a million for each and every single episode they star in.
Which means that they each banked a cheque for around $3.5 million this season (which features just seven episodes) alone.
To be honest, we’d expect nothing less from the fantasy drama. While there have been grumblings of misogyny in the past, there’s no denying that the show has put women at the front and centre of this season. They’ve defied gender stereotypes to get exactly what they want, by whatever means possible. They’ve been fully realised characters, wth flaws, strengths and detailed back-stories. And they’ve dealt with real issues (as well as fantastical ones), including but not limited to: mansplaining, genital mutilation, oral sex, infertility, slut-shaming, and sexism in survival situations.
Don’t believe us? Well, we’re not the only ones singing the show’s feminist praises: Gwendoline Christie (aka Brienne) recently revealed that she knew that Game of Thrones was going to do something incredible for women from the very first moment she read her script.
“This was a television show that would put women at the forefront,” she said. “We were going to explore female characters in a way that conventionally doesn’t happen.
“We were going to look at them in a three-dimensional way.”
Christie continued: “We would explore their darkness, we would find them complex. And we would spend more time on them.
“They wouldn’t simply exist as the mother role, the girlfriend role, the wife role or the sister. They would be people in their own right.”
She added: “I think putting women to the fore is what has changed the platform for television now.”
All hail HBO.