When you ask someone if you can borrow their internationally famous landmark, you expect them to laugh and escort you firmly and briskly to the door. To my amazement the lovely people at the London Eye were more than accommodating and even in that very first meeting gave practical suggestions as to how we could achieve our stunt.
At the peak of his career, Harry Houdini was the most famous man in the world, and one of his signature stunts was to hang from a famous building upside down whilst attempting to escape from a straitjacket. I had always wanted to attempt this stunt, but if I was going to do it, it had to be from a famous public building and I wanted to add another element. Fire. My idea was to set the rope that was suspending me on fire, and so I had to escape from the straitjacket and clip into a safety line before the rope burned through, or I would fall. And from that high, you tend not to bounce.
From the initial meeting, we took three months to logistically work out how to suspend me from the Eye, and how to light a fuel treated rope without setting fire to one of the world’s most beloved landmarks. I tried not to get too offended that in most of those meetings, people did seem to be more concerned about the London Eye than me. But I guess I do sign up for these things.
The actual stunt went pretty seamlessly. My jacket did catch fire at one point, which is not ideal, and I think a few people were pretty panicked. My view during the stunt was of Big Ben and House of Parliament, although upside down.
As it was very early in the morning at 5am, the only sounds I could hear were the faint hums of traffic, and my baby daughter crying as she was most unimpressed by the whole thing. I don’t like heights ironically, so with any other stunt I feel like I would have been much more panicked, but this escape was the culmination of the series. We had done all of the prep work and it worked out perfectly.
- Jonathan Goodwin on his experience dangling off of the famous London landmark in Episode 5