Twenty years ago, on New Year’s Eve 1999, Coventry held its breath as French tightrope walker Ramon Kelvink stepped off the parapet of Holy Trinity Church and calmly made his way above the city to the spire of St Michael’s and into the history books.
It was without doubt one of the most visually stunning Millennium events in Britain that night – yet it missed its prime slot on national television and was only shown in the early hours of the morning.
Coventry Society member Peter Walters, who was a member of the team that staged the tightrope walk, explains, “The BBC had a crew of more than a hundred working on the event and had hired the tallest crane in Britain to film it.
“A small mechanical problem in the studio scuppered plans to show our tightrope walk live on television around 9 pm, between that night’s National Lottery show and the Queen’s appearance on The Embankment in London, and by the time it was shown only insomniacs saw it!
“I don’t know who was more upset, ourselves at Coventry & Warwickshire Promotions or the BBC, but in the event it was a magical and spectacular performance, watched by around 30,000 people on the ground, and it remains one of my own favourite memories of the years I spent working to help promote the city.”
Now, for the first time in twenty years, this New Year’s Eve Coventry Cathedral will be screening the film made of the tightrope walk that night by city-based theatre company Talking Birds. Alongside is their short film, Girl With A Movie Camera, which captured the celebrations, and the screening will be accompanied by a live performance of Tightrope Prelude, specially commissioned for the 1999 event and written by Talking Birds’ Derek Nisbet.
The cathedral performance begins at 5pm on New Year’s Eve with a Q&A session on the theme, ‘Where Were You On 31.12.1999?’, so bring along your own memories of that evening and hear some unique insights from the team that organised Ramon’s extraordinary tightrope walk.
The event is FREE but donations towards the Cathedral’s Peace and Reconciliation work are welcome.
To book tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text message 07708 262 182.