On the night of Saturday, September the eighth, 2018, Rowley Irlam achieved a world first and thereby made history when he collected his third consecutive Emmy Award at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. Rowley accepted this prestigious and unprecedented third award as the Stunt Co-ordinator on Series 7 of Game of Thrones, which gifted us all such inforgettable scenes as the fire-breathing dragons attacking a terrified Lannister army and the vicious battle with hordes of the dead beyond the Wall, on an iced-over lake.
There were many other such scenes, of course, but as far as I’m aware, no stuntman or stunt co-ordinator has ever before been nominated three times in succession for an Emmy Award, and no one has ever succeeded in wining this stunning hat trick. In previous seasons, Rowley worked on the Battle of Hardhome and the equally momentous Battle of the Bastards, although these two events were the highlights of many other action scenes that left a global audience gaping with awe and desperate for more.
It is surely obvious from the evidence of our eyes that Rowley thoroughly deserves winning this stratospheric triple accolade. I am generally not a fan of the fantasy genre, but I will freely admit that I long ago fell under the spell of Game of Thrones, presumably for the same reasons that tens of millions of others have done. The murderous, labyrinthine plots reflect an interest I’ve long had in the courts of Imperial Rome and in the struggles witnessed by Machiavelli in Renaissance Italy, but there are countless other mesmerising aspects to the show, the most prominent of which are surely the breath-taking action scenes that range from one-on-one confrontations to full battle scenes.
I’ve written about this elsewhere and I will doubtless do so again, but for those of you who weren’t aware of this, I first had the honour, the privilege and the sheer pleasure of meeting Rowley as far back as the summer of 1990. For the past two years, I’d worked on what was at the time the world’s only touring mediaeval jousting tournament as William of Pembroke, the Earl Marshall and principal speaking part on this attraction.
My time there had been enjoyable, but it had taken its toll, so I was only lured back in 1990 by the prospect of performing in Russia after we’d toured Finland in the summer. I was late to the game, as I’d been unavoidably detailed elsewhere, so I ended up flying to Finland with my cousin Chris and my friend Dominic, who has also gone on to make a notable mark as a stuntman and stunt co-ordinator.
Be that as it may, one of the new knights waiting for us in the “Land of a Thousand Lakes” was Rowley, and I instantly took to him. After the summer’s tour of Scandinavia and Russia ended, I stayed in touch with him and I could write a small book on this, but for now, I want to do nothing more than dwell on his incredible accomplishment in 2018. It didn’t come out of nowhere, because if you care to pore over his vast list of credits on the Internet Movie Database, you’ll see that Rowley’s work has graced our screens in some of the world’s most memorable, thrilling and enjoyable productions for over two decades.
So, Rowley, my old friend, I trust you enjoy celebrating with Nichola and with your children, while I also hope you don’t come down from this exalted plane of Dionysiac consciousness for many weeks to come. I look forward to buying you a drink one day and telling you in person how impressed I am, but for now, I’ll raise a glass to you and leave you to your chosen festivities. Congratulations, sir, and if I had a hat on, I’d take it off to you in a heartbeat.