Veteran actor Kenny Baker, the 3ft 8in star behind Star Wars' most loveable robot R2-D2 has died after a long respiratory illness at the age of 81.
Birmingham born Baker played his most famous, much loved role in six Star Wars films; the original trilogy and the three prequels from 1999 to 2005 and was serving as a consultant for the latest Star Wars films whilst actor Jimmy Vee took on the role he made famous. A fan favourite, he appeared at conventions across the world.
But there was more to Kenny Baker than R2-D2; indeed his own favourite role was as Fidget in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits. Other films Baker appeared in included Flash Gordon, Mona Lisa, Amadeus, The Elephant Man, Labyrinth, Willow, Sleeping Beauty and 24 Hour Party People. He also appeared in TV series such as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and in several comedy shows featuring the likes of Dave Allen, Russ Abbott, Dick Emery, Ben Elton, Ken Dodd and Little and Large.
Baker was a talented vaudevillian and, with fellow little person Jack Purvis, formed the musical comedy double act The Mini Tones in the 1960s touring the clubs and pubs. Purvis would later star with him in the Handmade films Time Bandits and Mona Lisa. Baker met his wife Eileen through a television appearance on the Michael Parkinson chat show; she wrote in explaining that she was a little person too and would like to meet him and the pair got married soon after, the relationship lasting until her death twenty years ago.
Baker lived in Preston (a fact made famous in 6 Music DJ Shaun Keaveny's 2010 book, R2-D2 Lives In Preston) and following respiratory and mobility complications in recent years was cared for by his nephew, Drew Myerscough, who relates a 'normal, down to earth guy' who had 'a liking for lasagne and wildlife documentaries'