A long-time friend of late actor Dave Prowse has hailed him as a “lovely chap” who made a “marvellous” career of playing Darth Vadar.

Paul Welsh, a columnist for this paper, says he has “very good memories” of Mr Prowse, who died aged 85.

Mr Prowse, the Bristol weightlifter-turned-actor who played the villainous Sith lord in the original Star Wars trilogy, died after a short illness, his agent confirmed.

Mr Welsh says he and Mr Prowse were “good” friends for more than 40 years.

He said: “Dave was a lovely chap. I knew him for 45 years and he was very genuine, always friendly and always pleasant.

“He was very powerfully built and quite tall and played the role of Darth Vadar well. He enjoyed the fame which came with being cast in a role which he played three times.

“We used to have a joke that Dave was playing someone who could have been anybody.

“It is kind of funny, the rarity of actor who is famous around the world without appearing on screen.

“The rest of his life he made a decent living from playing the role, it was marvellous.”

He added: “I was sad when I heard on the radio that he passed away. I really miss him but he’s gone to a better place now.

“He enjoyed the last 40 years of his life and being celebrated for playing that role as Darth Vadar. He had a great career.”

Tributes from around the world have also poured in for Mr Prowse following his death.

Writing on Twitter, film director Edgar Wright highlighted Prowse’s work as the Green Cross Code Man teaching young people to stop, look and listen before crossing the road in a long-running TV campaign.

Wright tweeted: “As a kid Dave Prowse couldn’t be more famous to me; stalking along corridors as evil incarnate in the part of Darth Vader & stopping a whole generation of kiddies from being mown down in street as the Green Cross Code man. Rest in Peace, Bristol’s finest.”

Tributes also came from actors and fans of the Star Wars universe.

American actor Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the Rocky films and appears in Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian, said on Twitter: “RIP David Prowse. That stature contributed so much to Darth Vader’s legend. #BePeace.”