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How Irish Vikings conquered US

PACKED full of bloodshed, battle scenes and brooding Norse hunks, Irish-produced series The Vikings has pulled in record ratings Stateside.

THE History Channel's new series aired last week, and scored an extremely impressive 8.3 million viewers in the US.

And Irish producer Morgan O'Sullivan of Octagon films says he is delighted with the reception.

"Obviously we're thrilled," he told the Herald.

"The ratings are amazing. We've worked on big shows before, but we were staggered by the reception to the show."

O'Sullivan and writer Michael Hirst have worked together on hit series Game Of Thrones and Tudors. But it looks like Vikings could be their biggest hit yet.

The nine-part series focuses on the conflict between warrior Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and Gabriel Byrne's chieftain Earl Haraldson.

Travis previously worked as a Calvin Klein underwear model, and Morgan said his blond hair and rugged good looks made him the perfect leading man.

"We needed someone who looked like a real man. The Vikings were a different breed to us – they were broad and brawn. We found a real talent in Travis. And Gabriel Byrne has real pull and adds a weight to the series."

Shot in and around Wicklow, the series has received rave write-ups since it aired.

The Washington Post described it as an "adroit and elegant surprise". While USA Today was pleased the series had "plenty of stabbings, sailings and sexual escapades".

"We couldn't have written the reviews ourselves," Morgan admitted. "They have been amazing."

But Irish viewers will have to wait to see it. The producers are still in talks with distribution companies.

"We don't know when it will be over here but hopefully it will be sooner rather than later," Morgan said."