Kenny Baker/www.shutterstock.com

I started out ice skating with Holiday On Ice and just got offered the part by chance

Actor Kenny Baker was best known for playing R2-D2, in the Star Wars films. Although hidden inside the android costume, Baker’s physical interpretation of the character made an impact from the very first film’s opening scene, although he later related how physically restrictive being encased in R2-D2’s shell had been.

The Solihull-born actor performed and operated the difficult and often uncomfortable mechanical role in seven out of eight of the character’s Star Wars franchise appearances. Unitially unconvinced about the Star Wars role he was offered, when he found out actor Alec Guinness would be in the film, he took the part.

Baker, who was 3ft 8 inches tall, had honed his acting skills in touring shows and in panto roles and began his career on the stage aged 16 in a variety act, going on to skate in ice shows and perform as a clown in Billy Smart’s Circus.

His film career saw him play roles in The Elephant Man, Flash Gordon and, memorably, as Fidgit, one of the more amiable dwarf robbers in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits.

In his later career, Kenny took to the stage again, this time as a stand-up comedian, while he remained a much-loved figure at Star Wars and sci-fi conventions, greeting fans. Fellow Star Wars actors paid tribute to Kenny when he died. “A lifelong loyal friend,” tweeted Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker.