According to a report from Game of Thrones fansite Watchers on the Wall, Downton Abbey actor James Faulkner has been cast in the sixth season of the fantasy series, as Sam Tarly's cruel father Randyll. He's said to be joined by Rebecca Benson who will step into the shoes of Sam's sister, and Samantha Spiro who will play Sam's mother, with UnREAL's Freddie Stroma previously announced as Sam's brother, Dickon.

Continuing his journey to become a maester in the new batch of episodes come spring, Sam and lover Gilly will be travelling back to his home for a reunion likely to be wrapped in turmoil, drama and chaos.

Sam only ever joined the Night's Watch because his father couldn't bear to be around the young man his son had become; he resented his son for not being a fighter and didn't want his personality to rub off or get in the way of his brother Dickon, who is unlike him in every possible way. Dickon is now heir to the family title despite being the younger brother, with Sam given a choice of either going to The Wall or being killed by his father, who would make the murder look like a hunting accident.

In a bid to keep Gilly safe, Sam will return home whilst also studying, and could tell the Tarly family that young Sam is their child rather than the result of rape.

All will be revealed when Game of Thrones returns on HBO and Sky Atlantic in 2016.

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