TARGARYEN, Daemon Targaryen. The malevolent Matt Smith character sending shivers down the spine in Game of Thrones prequel House of The Dragon has an unexpected affinity with superspy secret agent James Bond.
Both have washed up on Cornwall’s picture postcard Holywell Bay as they have successfully battled against overwhelming odds – Smith in the George R.R. Martin fantasy franchise and Pierce Brosnan in the 007 cinema canon.
Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen, the latter now played by Emma D’Arcy as the series jumps forward ten years, filmed on Holywell Bay Beach, which is stepping in for Stepstones in the HBO series and today reaches the sixth of 10 episodes.
And if the swathe of golden sand, backed by grass tufted dunes, seems familiar to movie fans, that’s because you’ve seen it before. Yes, it’s Cornwall but it was once … North Korea.
Because this is the beach where Brosnan’s Bond and his team of crack commandos came out of the sea in the opening sequence of big screen blockbuster Die Another Day.
Back in 2002, it was a tangle of anti-tank measures, barbed wire and watchtowers filled with tough troops. Bond saved the day, of course, and he didn’t have a fire-breathing dragon to help.
Holywell Bay is a real-life favourite of bodyboarders, strollers and sunset seekers. Owned by the National Trust, the dunes are up to 60ft high in places, and it was the perfect location for the swords and sorcery shoot.
But then Cornwall is something of a movie mecca for House of the Dragon location hunters, with the mystical St Michael’s Mount (pictured above) also enjoying a scenic starring role in the story.
The British landmark features in the series as High Tide, a castle on a small island off the coast of Driftmark, saltwater seat of the House Velaryon. It’s an important location in the prequel plot.
Already a fascinating place reached by causeway at low tide, a bit of CGI trickery has made the settlement, with dates back to the 12th century, look even mightier than it is.
For more than 300 years it has been home to the Lords St Levan, who now lease it from the National Trust. And in the 1979 Dracula movie, starring Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier, it was the vampire’s castle, too.
East from St Michael’s Mount to the Lizard Peninsula is Kynance Cove, scene of Daemon’s bloody triumph over the scaly Crabeaters earlier in the series.
Kynance, also a National Trust site, is known for its white sand, turquoise water, with dramatic rock stacks and natural caves adding to a picture film-makers simply couldn’t resist.
It, too, has a film and TV pedigree as setting for the BBC’s Poldark and the 2015 version of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
The latter, coming full circle, starred Poldark’s own Aidan Turner … who just happens to love swords and sorcery stories and appeared in all three of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies as Kili the dwarf.
Pride of Britain Hotels has a number of properties close to the Cornish locations, including the Headland Hotel pictured above, and is currently promoting the region’s links with House of the Dragon. Call 0800 089 3929 or visit prideofbritainhotels.com.
Holywell Bay Beach and Kynance Cove images: VisitCornwall