How did Eddie Kidd get paralysed? Accident and 1996 crash explained as Top Gear pays tribute to stunt rider

Today’s stuntmen and women cite Eddie Kidd as the ‘benchmark’ for modern day stunt riding

Eddie Kidd doing a wheelie on a motorcycle in February 1977 (Photo: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Paddy McGuinness and his fellow Top Gear hosts Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris paid tribute to daredevil biker Eddie Kidd with an explosive stunt show in the first episode of the new series, which aired on Sunday 14 November.

Kidd, 62, was one of the greatest bikers of his generation, performing death-defying feats and working on multiple James Bond films, but was left paralysed following an accident in 1996.

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Top Gear paid tribute to this British legend in the only way it knows how: with McGuinness wearing leathers and leaping through a ring of fire, while other talented bikers leapt over trophy trucks in one of the most spectacular stunt spectacles seen on the show.

But who is Eddie Kidd, and what happened to him in his accident?

Here is everything you need to know about him.

Who is Eddie Kidd?

Born in Islington in 1959, Kidd began his stunt career at the age of fourteen.

By the age of 20, he was doubling for stars such as Harrison Ford in the film Hanover Street, in which he performed one of his most audacious stunts - jumping 37m over a Somerset railway cutting at 90 miles per hour.

He went on to work as a double in many films, notably for Roger Moore and Michael Caine in 1990’s Bullseye!, and on James Bond films like The Living Daylights and the Pierce Brosnan-starring GoldenEye.

In 1993, Kidd performed another headlining grabbing feat, jumping over the Great Wall of China on a motorcycle. That same year he was challenged to a world title motorcycle "jump off" competition by Robbie Knievel, the son of the late Evel Knievel.

The televised pay-per-view event saw each rider make three motorbike jumps, with the cumulative distance covered by each used to determine the winner.

Kidd won by six feet.

What happened to Kidd?

Eddie Kidd OBE was one of the greatest bikers of them all – an impossibly talented and handsome stunt rider who performed death-defying feats.

However, a crash in 1996 ended Eddie’s riding career, leaving him with life-changing injuries.

Kidd was performing at the Bulldog Bash at Long Marston Airfield near Stratford-upon-Avon, and was attempting a motorcycle jump of 15m across a drag strip.

In comparison to some of his previous stunts, the jump Kidd was attempting was relatively minor, and he completed the stunt and landed the bike upright on two wheels.

However, his chin struck the bike’s petrol tank upon landing and he was knocked unconscious, unable to prevent himself and the bike continuing over a 20ft drop at the end of the relatively short landing area.

Kidd sustained serious head and pelvic injuries in the crash, and his parents were told that he could be in a coma for up to 10 years.

He thankfully regained consciousness three months after the accident, but was left paralysed and with brain damage.

How is he today?

Kidd crosses the finish line of the 2011 London Marathon two months after starting (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Kidd has managed to complete some impressive feats since his accident.

In April 2011, Kidd started the 2011 London Marathon, ditching his wheelchair at the start and walking the rest of the way, stating it would take "four weeks to complete" and that it was his "greatest stunt yet".

He completed the race two months later in June.

Ahead of the Top Gear tribute’s broadcast, McGuinness said: “When you’re talking to him, you totally still see that glint in his eye.

“I just didn’t want to kind of… piss him off or say anything wrong to him. In the film he trolls me quite a lot. He’s really sharp – and I didn’t care what he said to me or if he took the mickey out of me.”

With co-presenter Freddie Flintoff describing how today’s stuntmen and women cite Kidd as the “benchmark” for modern day stunt riding, the scale of the performer’s achievements suddenly hit home for the cricketer.

“The first person to do all that is the one who’s the bravest,” he says, “he’s doing something you’re not sure can possibly be done and he’s the one out there and he’s paved the way for everyone else afterwards.”

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