Star Wars actor Kenny Baker dies aged 81

Star Wars: The Force Awakens European Premiere - London
Kenny Baker, the 3ft 8in actor who found fame as the robot R2-D2 in the Star Wars saga, has died at the age of 81.

Despite a long illness, he still played the droid in the latest film in the franchise - The Force Awakens, and was one of the few 'ever presents' in the entire Star Wars story.

Mr Baker also appeared in The Goonies, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.

Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, his niece Abigail Shield said: " It was expected, but it's sad nonetheless. He had a very long and fulfilled life. He brought lots of happiness to people and we'll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world. We're all very proud of what he achieved in his lifetime."

Kenny Baker was born in Birmingham, and lived in Preston. He was approached by a woman in the street in 1951, who asked him if he would like to join a performing troupe of people with dwarfism, an experience which introduced him to show business.

He later appeared in a circus, before making his screen debut in 1960.

Baker counted Star Wars as his big break, and made numerous appearances in film and television as a result.

Posting on Twitter, Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, praised his optimism and determination. "He WAS the droid I was looking for!" he wrote.

One of his most enduring tales of his life in films is recounting that he didn't get on with his on-screen partner Anthony Daniels, who played the droid C-3PO. He's rude to everyone, including fans, he said on the TV programme 'Bring Back Star Wars'.

Actor Kenny Baker Who Played R2-D2 In 'Star Wars', Dies At 83