Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the high wire walker Philippe Petit. Since the age of 17 Petit had been, in his own words, a 'wandering troubadour', making a living by doing magic in the salons of Paris. Notre Dame became the site of Petit's first illegal wirewalk, on 6th June 1971. On 7th August 1974 Philippe Petit committed 'the artistic crime of the century' when he put a rope between the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and spent nearly an hour walking back and forth across it, pausing to kneel and lie down on the wire. He brought much of Manhattan, a quarter of a mile below him, to a standstill, and succeeded in pushing Richard Nixon's resignation off the front pages of the newspapers the following day.

Since walking between the twin towers Petit has done wire-walks all over the world including Tokyo and Jerusalem. He has, uniquely, devised plays to be performed on the high wire and has also become artist in residence at the cathedral of St John the Divine in New York, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: 1st Movement of Sonatine for Violin and Piano by Antonin Dvořák Book: Ashley's Book of Knots by Clifford Ashley and Book of short stories Luxury: His mysterious object (An object found by his father that, as yet, no-one can identify)