One of Sunderland’s most memorable moments from 2018 to feature in BBC documentary

Cirque Bijou crossing the River Wear in July 2018
Cirque Bijou crossing the River Wear in July 2018
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One of the most memorable moments of the year in Sunderland will be celebrated in a BBC show.

In July, thousands of people lined the River Wear to see daredevil performers Chris Bullzini and fellow artist Johanne Humblet from Cirque Bijou traverse the River Wear on a tight rope - with no safety net - as part of the artistic programme for the Tall Ships Races.

Cirque Bijou Tightrope over River Wear.

Cirque Bijou Tightrope over River Wear.

Now audiences can relive the dramatic feat when the spectacle is shown on Daredevils and Divas: A Night at the Circus on BBC4 on Sunday, December 9.

The show marks the 250th anniversary of cavalryman Philip Astley’s very first circus, a spectacular horseshow on the banks of the River Thames by celebrating the best of British circus today.

Cirque Bijou are one of the circuses featured on the show and BBC cameras accompanied them to Sunderland when they wowed Wearside with their daring tight rope walk.

Starting at Panns Bank, and using only a pole for balance, Chris climbed 100ft high to Wearmouth Bridge along a 700ft long high wire suspended across the river in a spectacular finish to the third day of the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland.

A curtain of light falls from Wearmouth Bridge as part of the Tall Ships Races event

A curtain of light falls from Wearmouth Bridge as part of the Tall Ships Races event

As if that wasn’t difficult enough, he was joined part way through the performance by Johanne as she climbed from a fishing boat, up a ladder, to join him on the wire.

The performance also featured a 100-strong choir singing on the bridge while a fleet of small local boats circled underneath. The crowds were further dazzled by performers holding LED umbrellas in a choreographed display at Panns Bank and a firework display which created a waterfall of lights under the Wearmouth Bridge.

The artistic programme for the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland was put together by Sunderland Culture.

Helen Green, head of performance at Sunderland Culture, said: “We at Sunderland Culture are immensely proud to have been able to deliver the cultural programme for The Tall Ships Sunderland 2018 Festival.

“Cirque Bijou’s spectacular high wire walk across the River Wear captivated thousands of spectators and has certainly been one of the most extraordinary and exciting projects I have worked on.”

Other performers featured in Daredevils and Divas include Britain’s only fully inclusive circus, Extraordinary Bodies, the world-famous Gandini Jugglers, Tweedy The Clown of Giffords Circus and Britain’s biggest contemporary circus NoFit State.

•Daredevils And Divas: A Night At The Circus is on BBC4 at 9pm on Sunday, December 9.