EDDIE KIDD, the motorbike rider and film stunt man, flew like Icarus during his career, but high on coke snorted the night before, he finally crashed to earth 11 years ago, and was confined to a wheelchair.

Kidd was a stereotypical biker of his era: a life of sex, drugs, and throttle control.

It was a film about the late Evel Knievel, who died last month, which seduced Kidd. He graduated from oil cans and barrels, and then his class mates, to claim a junior world best by soaring over eight coaches on a motorbike.

Eventually he made Steve McQueen's attempts to jump the wire in The Great Escape look wimpish by clearing the Great Wall of China in 1993. He surpassed Knievel's record for jumping over parked double-decker buses - clearing 14 when he was 18 - and when he won the world stunt bike world championship in 1993 it was Evel's son, Robbie, whom he defeated.

Kidd performed as a stunt double for Harrison Ford in Hanover Street, Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye), Roger Moore and Michael Caine (Bullseye), Val Kilmer (Top Secrets), and Timothy Dalton (Living Daylights), spawned a computer game, and had a failed singing career, though one of his efforts was Tony Blackburn's record of the week.

But he also featured in numerous other films and TV productions, including Judge Dredd, First Knight, Michael Collins, Young Indiana Jones, London's Burning, The Bill, Casualty, A Touch of Frost, McCallum, and Dr Who.

He appeared in adverts for Levis and Sunsilk, and teenage girls had their bedroom walls plastered with "Black Knight" posters and T-shirts. As he recalled: "I had it all."

When he doubled for Ford (120ft at 90mph over a ravine in Somerset with a dummy strapped to his back) the director said: "There was nobody else in the world capable of, or prepared to do, the leap."

After more than 3000 stunt jumps, Kidd finally applied for a motorbike road license in 1995. The following year came the crash which ended it all. He suffered serious head and pelvic injuries and his family was told he might be in a coma for 10 years.

He regained consciousness six weeks later, but spent months in hospital, and his wife left him. Co-ordination and speech were impaired, and he was wheelchair-bound for several years, though last summer, riding a 1200cc tricycle, he opened the Beyond Boundaries Exhibition at Sandown Park.

Another stunt that brought Kidd to public prominence was 27 years ago today, when he was just 20. Making the movie Riding High, he denied gusty winds which threw the front wheel dangerously high after take-off and successfully flew across an 80ft gap over a 50ft drop on the rocky bed of the River Blackwater in Essex.

The setting was spectacular, between giant pillars once connected by a railway bridge. His 400cc Yamaha reached 100mph on take-off from a 400-yard launch pad. "I never want to do a jump like that again," he said on landing. But, of course, he did.

It ended at a Hell's Angels rally in Warwickshire. Three years after, in a red-top tabloid, Kidd admitted having been "out of my head on cocaine the night before . . . It was my fault. I should never have jumped that day. I wasn't right in the head, but I thought I'd get away with it.

I thought I was invincible . . . I know I was a prat." He had taken three years to re-learn how to enunciate the word.