How Game of Thrones shot season 5’s dramatic dragon scene

Behind-the-scenes with flamethrowers, burning stuntmen and hundreds of extras for this week's fiery climax

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This week’s Game of Thrones was a bit of a shocker in more ways than one, but if it was the final scene of the episode that took your breath away – which saw Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen attacked in the fighting pits of Meereen before flying away on the back of her dragon Drogon – then you won’t be surprised to hear that filming the sequence required a lot of careful preparation.

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The dramatic scene was filmed in Spain (as are most sets representing Meereen), in the little town of Osuna. More than 550 extras, plus the cast and crew took over the Plaza del Toros bullring, which was used to represent the Daznak fighting pit, to stage the epic dragon scene.

Here Drogon scorched the Sons of the Harpy with his firey breath to save Daenerys – and it was real fire. “We had to do a lot of what we call ‘fire burn’,” reveals location manager Naomi Liston, “this is when you set stuntmen on fire. We had to do around 18 fire burns.” Although the scene is only four minutes long on screen, it took 14 days to shoot in Osuna’s Plaza de Toros.

“We used these enormous flamethrowers for the special effects,” recalls Liston. “It was a massive scene, and it was great fun to shoot.” 

And if you feel the need to enter the fighting pits yourself, Game of Thrones fans can travel to the very spot where Daenerys is rescued by Drogon. Fittingly, the 60-metres-wide Plaza is considered one of the most dangerous bullfighting rings in history, and in July spectators can watch opera shows from the ancient stands, built some 200 years ago. 

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Game of Thrones is on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 9:00pm