Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 17:32 UK

Force rescues Darth Vader on M1

A Darth Vader lookalike (library)
Dave Prowse who plays super villain Darth Vader was stranded on the M1

The force came to the rescue of one of the Universe's most notorious villains when his vehicle broke down on the M1 in Northamptonshire.

Dave Prowse, who plays Darth Vader in the Star Wars films, was saved by the Highways Agency motorway rescue force.

He was standing behind a barrier, intimidated by the speed of passing traffic when help arrived.

The force helped him get to a Star Wars group's reunion at the National Space Centre in Leicester.

The East Midlands Regional Control Centre at Watford Gap sent the patrol to help the star, who also educated a generation of children as TV's Green Cross Code Man in the 1970s and 1980s.

R2D2 used to keep a little ladder inside the boot so he could climb up and put his suitcases inside
Dave Prowse

"The traffic officers told me to wait behind the barrier, and I couldn't believe the noise from the traffic that was sailing past me," said Mr Prowse.

"I am known as the Green Cross Code Man, but this was a totally different situation.

He added: "I was on my way to rehearsals and filming at Yoxall, near Burton on Trent when I broke down last Thursday."

"Then, at the weekend I was due to attend a reunion of the 501st UK Garrison, which is a Star Wars costumed charitable organisation, at the National Space Centre in Leicester and needed the car.

"I'm the Commander in Chief Worldwide so it was really important I that I was there, and when I broke down my boot was full of memorabilia and photos."

'Leave the cord'

Officers Craig Chapman and Asha-Jayne Neary based at Watford Gap, and control room traffic officer Jo Li who was gaining experience of patrol work, were sent.

While assisting Dave, who lives in Croydon, the traffic officers realised who he was and also the unusual history of his Mercedes car.

"The car was previously owned by my good friend Kenny Baker who was R2D2," said Dave.

"He used to keep a little ladder inside the boot so he could climb up and put his suitcases inside.

"When he had finished, he'd put the ladder back and used a cord to shut the boot.

"I decided to leave the cord there as a reminder of the car's previous owner."

Mr Chapman, 29, of Milton Keynes, said: "Meeting Darth Vader is definitely one of the strangest situations I've been in."

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