James Bond and Gibraltar: Filming The Living Daylights

Sean Connery and John Lennon both got married there, and Ian Fleming was inspired by a real-life WW2 incident to use it in his novel Thunderball.

The opening title sequence to The Living Daylights (1987) was filmed on Gibraltar. It was the fifteenth entry in the James Bond film series and the first to star Timothy Dalton as 007 James Bond. The film’s title was taken from Ian Fleming’s short story, “The Living Daylights“. It was the last film to use the title of an Ian Fleming story until the 2006 installment Casino Royale.



The opening NATO exercise teaser, infiltrated by the Russians, was filmed mostly on the Upper Rock. Situated on the southern tip of Spain, Gibraltar has been British territory (and a British naval base) since 1713. Less than 15 miles from the coast of Morocco, the rocky outcrop was known as one of the two ‘Pillars of Hercules’ – the headlands either side of the Strait of Gibraltar, the narrow neck separating Europe from Africa, which provides the only link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The rock is inhabited by Barbary apes (which are actually monkeys) – the only monkeys native to Europe. The inevitable legend has it that once the ‘apes’ leave, the British will leave.


Filming on the Upper Rock


Principal photography commenced at Gibraltar on 17th September 1986. Aerial stuntmen B.J. Worth and Jake Lombard performed to the pre-credits parachute jump. Both the terrain and wind were unfavourable. Consideration was given to the stunt being done using cranes but aerial stunts arranger B.J. Worth stuck to skydiving and completed the scenes in a day. The aircraft used for the jump was a C-130 Hercules, which in the film had M’s office installed in the aircraft cabin. The initial point of view for the scene shows M in what appears to be his usual London office, but the camera then zooms out to reveal that it is, in fact, inside an aircraft. Although marked as a Royal Air Force aircraft, the one in shot belonged to the Spanish Air Force and was used again later in the film for the Afghanistan sequences this time in “Russian” markings.


The road as it looks today


Gibraltar scene: YouTube Preview Image


Ian Fleming and Gibraltar

Documents and photographs released by MI5 have given a fascinating insight into the real-life intrigue which inspired James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming – from exploding fountain pens to human torpedoes.

Ian Fleming spent World War II in naval intelligence – and biographers have charted how his experiences inspired him to create many of 007′s finest adventures.

Recently MI5 has declassified secret documents shedding further light on the real history of James Bond. The papers at the National Archives document the secret war to defend Gibraltar. They are a story of brilliant impersonators, femme-fatale agents and exploding fountain pens.

Read more on this story here….



 (photo by: G A Linares www.linares.gi ) Parachuting down the Eastern side of Gibraltar… 


…and landing on Sandy Bay beach (photo by: G A Linares www.linares.gi )


The Tag Heuer watch seen on Dalton’s wrist during the pre title sequence was given the name `Gibraltar Heuer’.

Glimpses of the Gibraltar Watch can be seen at various points in the pre-title sequence. But the best close-ups come during the parts where Bond has torn through the canvass roofing on the bad guy’s getaway vehicle, between approximately 5½ and 6½ minutes into the film (as viewed on the 2006 Ultimate Edition DVD). Here Dalton grabs the steering wheel with his left hand, wristwatch exposed below the sleeve, providing over seventy-five distinct frames that we stop-captured for closer analysis.

Several attributes are readily apparent. In addition to the Gibraltar Watch description above, Bond’s timekeeper shows dark hands and dark markers. It has a graduated bezel, black in color. Additionally, the bracelet is jubilee-style.


The Gibraltar Heuer 980.031 PVD Night Dive watch, seen worn by Dalton in the pre-title training exercise over Gibraltar