While a considerable number of fans struggled to recognise the Shape of You singer, others were outraged by the casting, claiming that the placement of such a prominent pop star (Sheeran headlined Glastonbury less than a month ago) posed a distraction to the believable remits of Game of Thrones, a show that involves dragons and human resurrection.
The backlash saw Sheeran temporarily leave Twitter and has even forced the episode’s director, Jeremy Podeswa, to leap to the singer’s defence.
“I think Ed did a lovely job – he’s a lovely actor and a lovely person,” Podeswa told Newsweek.
“He was appropriate for the part because he needed to sing. If people didn’t know who Ed was, they wouldn’t have thought about it twice.
“The hoo-ha seems to be from things that are outside of the world of the show. In the world of the show he did a lovely job, and he looks like he belongs in that world.”
While it’s excellent news that everyone was getting on behind the scenes of Game of Thrones, the rather backhanded compliment here is that Podeswa believed Sheeran “looks like he belongs in that world”. A world, lest we forget, that is riddled with lethal skin diseases, incest, savagery and, seemingly, no showers.
Perhaps Podeswa was inspired by Sheeran’s turn as the “ambitious and deadly protégé” Sir Cormac in US cable series The Bastard Executioner, in 2015. We think he suits a cloak rather well.