Delany made the badly received "joke" at Sydney's premiere of HBO’s spin-off series House of the Dragon on Tuesday.
In a speech to the crowd, he recounted how he started watching Game of Thrones late, and didn’t know who Emilia was.
“I was like, ‘What’s this show with the short, dumpy girl walking into the fire?’” he said to a frosty reception.
According to people at the premiere, the audience was taken aback by his comment.
“Yeah, I was there for this, and turned to my mate for clarification as I simply didn’t believe someone would say that on mic,” an audience member tweeted.
Crikey also reported that there was "a bit of a gasp" and that people were "obviously shocked" by his comment.
Once news of Delany’s comment spread, social media erupted with comments from upset fans.
“The actress and her character from the world's biggest TV show who single-handedly solidified house Targaryen in pop culture and made House of the Dragon and all the future spin-offs about her house possible,” one wrote.
“Calling Emilia Clarke short and dumpy by a man at show premiere reminds me of when I first met one of my male managers at my workplace and he told me women's place [is in the] kitchen! They still believe insulting women is funny. Our bodies and jobs aren't subject of men's jokes,” added another enraged fan.
“Can see he’s the kind of person who hides insults as jokes, that kind of toxic person,” a third chimed in.
“Delany needs to be fired. Unacceptable,” another wrote.
Foxtel Group issues apology
After facing heated backlash, a Foxtel Group spokesperson apologised to Crikey on Delany’s behalf, adding that his remarks were meant to be "self-deprecating and light-hearted".
“The aim was to convey that for him, Game of Thrones was something very different for television in 2011 and that Emilia Clarke went from relatively unknown to one of the most recognised and most-loved actors in television and film,” they said.
“On behalf of Mr Delany, the Foxtel Group apologises if his remarks were misunderstood and caused any offence.”
People were baffled by Delany’s 'apology’, with many pointing out that his comment wasn’t ‘self-deprecating’ at all.
“Apart from being an obvious and crude PR ploy to make sure we're all talking about the launch of this series, Patrick Delany or his PR advisors need to check what 'self-deprecating' means. It means making fun of YOURSELF not someone else. Jesus, this world,” one wrote.
“Having heard many execs speak at many Aussie PR events, I can say the head of one of Australia's biggest TV companies calling Emilia Clarke a 'short, dumpy girl’ is up there, but also not surprising. Love to see his *team* apologise for him ‘IF his remarks were misunderstood’,” another chimed in.
“Self-deprecating is making fun of yourself. How was he doing that...Man, it must suck to be a famous woman, you don't even do anything and here there are multiple news cycles to insult her, apologise, and eventually people being like, it's overreacting to take offence,” a third added.
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