The first episode of the new series of Game Of Thrones has already been watched by 3.4 million Sky Atlantic viewers, the broadcaster has said.

The epic drama of politics, war, sex and magic arrived on screens for its eighth and final instalment early on Monday morning.

Stars of the show include Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, who married Aberdeen-born co-star Rose Leslie at Rayne Church in Aberdeenshire, last year.

HeraldScotland:

Some 192,000 enthusiasts stayed up until 2am on Monday morning to watch the first transmission of the first episode of series eight live, at the same time it was being broadcast for the first time in the US on HBO.

That transmission has now been viewed by a total of 2.7 million UK fans who recorded the early broadcast or watched on demand, as well as those who tuned in live.

The episode aired for a second time at 9pm and that transmission has been watched by 698,000 people, including those who watched live in primetime.

The figure is expected to increase significantly as more Game Of Thrones fans catch up on the series premiere on demand, through Sky + recordings and through repeats.

After the broadcast, fans in the UK said they were relieved they could "finally come out of hiding" after making it to the series eight debut without hearing any spoilers.

Many people tuning in to the second showing said they had stayed off social media all day in case any of the programme's secrets were spilled before they could watch for themselves.

Game Of Thrones continues on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.

The six-episode finale will bring to a conclusion the saga of who will rule from the Iron Throne – almost two years after the end of the previous season.

READ MORE: Game of Thrones couple Jon and Ygritte marry in real life in Scotland

Lena Headey reprises her role as the scheming Cersei Lannister, while Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen,  returns alongside Kit Harington as Jon Snow.

Last week members of the star-studded cast including Clarke, Peter Dinklage and Maisie Williams attended New York City’s Radio City Music Hall for the season premiere.

Game Of Thrones is based on George RR Martin’s series of fantasy novels, A Song Of Ice And Fire, and adapted for television by David Benioff and DB Weiss.