No Time to Fly: Veteran director on the making of that parachute scene - and who should be next Bond

Bond director John Glen recalls working with 'favourite' Bond Sir Roger Moore and proudest 007 moments, with ITV Meridian's James Davies.

The veteran British film director behind James Bond hit The Spy Who Loved Me has shared a rare behind-the-scenes account of how one of cinema's most iconic stunts was filmed.

John Glen, who also directed Octopussy and For Your Eyes Only, reveals he feared being fired if the classic Union Jack parachute jump scene went wrong.

In an exclusive interview with ITV Meridian, Mr Glen shared behind-the-scenes stories from the 1977 hit film's set as he shared secrets from his decades-long Bond film career.

Although Mr Glen is behind many of cinema's best-known action sequences, he says his proudest moment was pulling off the parachute stunt, for The Spy Who Loved Me's opening sequence.

Cinema audiences at the time rose to their feet in awe as Bond soared off a snowy cliff-edge to evade gun-toting villains in skis, before opening a Union Jack-emblazoned parachute.

Mr Glen was Second Unit Director on the film, which starred the late Sir Roger Moore as 007, and recalled how the stunt-man pulled off the nail-biting feat.

"I went out to Mount Asgard in Canada, with a small crew and a stunt guy called Rick Sylvester - who would be doubling for Roger Moore. Rick looked nothing like Roger or James Bond at all. He was 5'6" or so but he had nerves of steel.

"He assured me that he could leap off this 7,500-ft precipice for the film's dramatic pre-title sequence.

We waited about three weeks for the right weather conditions and eventually I managed to get the perfect opportunity to do the shot. The rest of the sequence that preceded the jump I shot in San Moritz. 

"That sequence was (veteran Bond producer) Cubby Broccoli's all time favourite shot in the Bond series. 

"When Cubby was given an award in Hollywood the ceremony ran a video montage showing bits and pieces from all his films.

"The last shot they showed was the ski-parachute jump and the whole audience stood up and applauded, which was wonderful.

A scene from the 1973 film Live And Let Die starring Roger Moore as James Bond. Credit: United Archives/DPA/Press Association Images

"Because of that shot he awarded me the job of directing eventually.

"It was one of those shots that you were either going to achieve or you were going to get the sack. My career would have ended if that shot had been a failure. 

"It had every right to fail quite honestly - we weren't mountaineers, we were studio guys!"

Mr Glen, of Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, began his long Bond career with 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, starring George Lazenby.

Actor Sir Roger Moore Credit: DAN HIMBRECHTS/AAP/

After a successful run working on the blockbusters, John was given the opportunity to direct his first Bond adventure - For Your Eyes Only, in 1981. It was on that film set that the foundations of what would become a lifelong friendship with Sir Roger were formed.

Mr Glen worked with three of the six actors who have played Bond, and his directing credits include A View To A Kill, The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill.

But he confided that megastar Sir Roger, who died in 2017, was his favourite 007 to work with.

  • John Glen reminisces about working with the late Sir Roger Moore

"Roger was just a fantastic person and he had a school boyish sense of humour. 

"He loved practical jokes. Every day on the unit when we were filming we used to have to allow half an hour for the gags but it was well worth it because he kept everyone on their toes and everyone was enjoying themselves. He had a great sense of humour."

Mr Glen, who directed five Bond films in total, also worked with Timothy Dalton and screen-tested Pierce Brosnan.He recalled how Dalton led a charge to pioneer a tougher Bond, much like his contemporary successor, Daniel Craig went on to do.

Bond actor Daniel Craig at the premiere in a classic black tuxedo Credit: PA

"Timothy said he was a great Fleming fan and he'd like to go back to the origins and have a more hard-edged Bond, which we agreed with.

"It's good when you have a new Bond to have a slight change in direction."

With Craig's time as the iconic British spy coming to its explosive end in No Time To Die, Mr Glen speculated on who might next step into Bond's suave suits.

Mr Glen said he previously felt Luther star Idris Elba would make a strong contender, but he worried the casting might be too late following years of speculation.

Idris Elba Credit: PA

"He is getting on a bit now. You have to think ahead to the next six or seven years at least. There comes a time - Roger probably outstayed his welcome by at least one film, I think."

Craig bowed out of the Bond franchise in spectacular fashion in No Time to Die, released to both critical acclaim and controversy over its shock ending, following pandemic delays.

John may have put down his own clapper board 30 years ago - but he still has views on how to give the films a licence to thrill.

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So, does he think the iconic spy franchise will survive another 60 years?

Mr Glen speculated: "Well you see (longtime Bond producer) Cubby Broccoli always used to say 'They made 27 Tarzans - why shouldn't we make 27 Bonds?'

"I think whoever plays James Bond is very important obviously and certainly Craig has done a wonderful job. The same way Roger did a wonderful job and Timothy did a wonderful job.

"You have to kind of change. You stay with the Fleming character and that is all important and 007 will survive whoever plays him.

"Maybe M will fly into some kind of sanitorium in Switzerland and there will be a figure wrapped up in bandages and they cut him free and it's the new Bond.

"Maybe it'll be a woman - who knows?"