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'Game of Thrones' returns 12 April in the US, UK the day after

Brits and Americans can enjoy season 5 of HBO's smash hit fantasy show together, while Sky's Now TV catches up on past seasons online.

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Lena Headey returns as the scheming Cersei Lannister in season 5 of HBO's "Game of Thrones". HBO

Winter is coming -- in spring. Fantasy regicide-'em-up "Game of Thrones" returns to US and UK television at the same time in April.

The smash hit sword-and-scheming show, based on the novels of George R.R. Martin, begins its fifth season on US cable network HBO on Sunday 12 April. The new season then premieres for British viewers the following day at 9pm on UK channel Sky Atlantic.

Each of season 5's ten episodes will be on Sky Atlantic the day after they're shown in the US. They will also appear on Sky's Now TV online service , which allows you to watch Sky-owned films, sports and TV shows without a dish by paying a monthly subscription. To get you in the mood, all four previous seasons will be available to watch on Now TV from 1 March.

US fans can also relive the spectacular season 4 finale even bigger than ever with screenings at 150 IMAX theatres around the country at the end of January.

Following Sky's example, HBO is rumoured to be preparing its own online streaming service in time for the return of "Thrones", the network's highest-rated show ever. Giving cord-cutters the opportunity to watch online -- not to mention giving international viewers the chance to see the show straight away -- should go a long way towards combating piracy, a particular problem for "Game of Thrones".

The new series adds former "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" star Alexander Siddig; one-time Bond villain Jonathan Pryce; Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje of "Lost"; genre veteran DeObia Oparei and Keisha Castle-Hughes, who previously appeared in "Whale Rider" and "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith".

Another face to look out for is Jessica Henwick. As as well as playing Nymeria Sand in "Thrones", the 22-year-old English actress will also appear in "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens".

That weekend in April is a big one for geeks: startup-spoofing sitcom "Silicon Valley" bootstraps its second season on HBO on the same day as "Game of Thrones", the day that also sees the inauguration of the fourth season of "Veep". That gives you time to binge-watch Marvel's on the Friday, 10 April.