TV apology over Bush 'severed head'

US broadcaster HBO and the producers of the drama series Game of Thrones have apologised for a scene that appeared to depict former American president George W Bush's severed head on a spike.

Producers Dan Weiss and David Benioff said they did not intentionally use the prosthetic head because it looked like Mr Bush - and added they meant no disrespect to him.

The scene was shown last year and included again in a DVD release this March, with little public notice.

However, a story about the image began circulating online this week as HBO prepares to premiere a documentary on Mr Bush's father, fellow former president George HW Bush.

The prosthetic head was one of several on spikes in a scene where the character King Joffrey reveals to his fiancee the severed head of her father, whom he had judged disloyal.

The former US president's features on the prop were partially obscured by long hair and the picture flashes by quickly. But in a commentary included with the DVD, producers Dan Weiss and David Benioff pointed out the Bush head.

The producers said they often order prosthetic body parts in bulk for Game of Thrones because it can be too expensive to make new ones. They claimed that it was not until the scene was shot that someone pointed out the resemblance to Mr Bush.

Their DVD commentary mentioning the Bush head made its presence clear to any fans who might not have noticed it the first time around. "We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologise if anything we said or did suggested otherwise," the producers said.

HBO, in a statement issued by spokesman Quentin Schaffer, said it was dismayed to learn about the Bush head. "We find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste," the network said.

HBO said it has halted all further shipments of the DVD and removed repeats of the episode from its networks until the scene depicting the head is edited out.