I could barely sleep the night before Kenny Baker (the man who played R2D2) was set to join us on our radio show. And what a gentleman. 3 feet 8 inches tall, Kenny was a circus and cabaret performer before getting a phone call from George Lucas in 1977 that would change his life. Who knew there were two R2s? In the original Star Wars films, there were two models, one that was remote controlled and rolled on three wheeled legs, and another which was worn by Kenny and walked on two legs. Also a surprise was discovering Kenny’s lesser known role as Paploo the Ewok.
Most interviews have at least one awkward moment and the one with Mr Baker came when he asked if I might lift him onto a chair in the studio. It should be said the chairs we use for radio are relatively high, designed to almost fall onto from a standing position. But not when you’re 3 feet 8 inches. I thought lifting Kenny might be similar to lifting a toddler. Wrong. I gingerly put my hands underneath the armpits of a 76-year-old sweaty, muscular man and hoisted him onto the seat. He laughed and gave out a satisfying grunt. What a strange Tuesday.
‘Kenny, could we have a quick photo before you leave?’
‘Great, you jump in the wheely bin.’