RICHMOND Live has been one of the highlights of the town’s social calendar for the last 18 years and attracts big name acts including the Bootleg Beatles, From the Jam and The South – and this year organisers decided to pull another hit out of the bag.

The festival runs over Friday and Saturday at the end of July, but the gates opened on Thursday for Rantin’ Ritchie’s Non Stop Erratic Cabaret - a night of music, children’s fancy dress, poetry, juggling, and culminating in the main act by escapologist Chris Cross.

Families piled into one of the main tents by the River Swale on Richmond Batts and were dazzled by the colourful and diverse acts that took to the stage.

Mr Cross, from Newcastle, warmed up his crowd with card tricks that impressed youngsters and amused adults with his cheeky humour and audience participation, before setting up his stunt.

Taking members of the audience to help, he was strapped tightly into a straight-jacket before being tied by the feet and lifted around 10 feet into the air on a large farming vehicle.

He said he aimed to beat his record of one minute and 30 seconds – and managed to escape from the jacket just in time to achieve it, receiving delighted cheers from his audience.

After his stunt he said the gig was helping him prepare for an even bigger stunt in Newcastle’s Castle keep, where he will be raised 80 feet in the air while straight-jacketed.

“I started doing magic when I was 10, and I started doing it full time when I was 16. I’m 27 now and I have performed all over the world – New Zealand, New York, Bahrain and Dubai, for guests including Mike Tyson and Prince Charles.

“I do a lot of close-up magic, as well as the straight-jacket stunt. This was a try out for a big stunt I’m planning in Newcastle, and for my upcoming variety night, The Greatest Show in the Tyne, on September 2.”

The event organiser, performance poet Rantin’ Ritchie, said the night had been a great success.

“I wanted to do something for the families of the town, something a bit different that would appeal to lots of people that might not normally come to Richmond Live.

“We have had music, face painting, fancy dress, mime acts and of course Chris Cross, who was fantastic.”

Richmond Live music festival continues tonight and all day Saturday. Visit and