Foxtel’s chief executive Patrick Delany was introducing the spin-off at the season launch in Sydney, Australia and began by confessing he was initially sceptical at how successful Game of Thrones would be.
Delany told the audience: “I was like, ‘What’s this show with the short dumpy girl who walks into the flames?’”
A Foxtel spokesperson told Crikey afterwards: “On behalf of Mr Delany, the Foxtel Group apologises if his remarks were misunderstood and caused any offence.
“The aim was to convey that for him, Games 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 added that the comments were meant to be “self-deprecating and light-hearted”.
One audience member told Crikey: “It felt like he was expecting us to laugh along but people in the room were obviously shocked by it."
Another added: “There was a bit of a gasp."
Foxtel has the rights to air the fantasy series in Australia.
Clarke, 35, played villainous queen Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones from 2011 to 2019.
Spin-off House Of The Dragon stars Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen.
The prequel is set 300 years before the events of the fantasy drama and is inspired by Game of Thrones creator George R R Martin's book Fire & Blood.
Clarke has said she believes Kit Harington will reprise his role as Jon Snow in his own spin-off series.
Asked about it by the BBC, Clarke said: “He has told me about it. And I know it exists. It's happening."
"It's been created by Kit as far as I can understand, so he's in it from the ground up.
“So what you will be watching, hopefully, if it happens, is certified by Kit Harington."
Asked if she would reprise her own role she said: "No, I think I'm done."
Watch: House Of The Dragon cast discuss influence of Game of Thrones