WARWICK Davis’s parents never would have guessed that by the age of 11, their 3ft 6in son would be famous.

His mum and dad had never experienced dwarfism and were more worried about him being bullied at school for being the smallest kid in the classroom by quite a stretch.

But then a radio ad changed everything.

One day his grandmother heard a radio appeal for short people to take part in Star Wars’ Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi. Originally cast as one of many Ewoks, Warwick's luck changed when the original actor fell ill, and he got the part of Wicket.

He said: “If my nan hadn’t listened to the radio that day, I wouldn’t be here now.

“I would have liked her to have seen me presenting Celebrity Squares. We used to watch it together although she did see me in Willow before she died.”

Willow, the 1988 American fantasy film in which he played the title role, was Warwick’s first film to expose his face. It received a Royal Premiere attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales.

But having his features hidden in a Ewok suit was a small price to pay when he got to meet Luke Skywalker.

Actor Mark Hamill asked if he collected toys from the film and if he wanted any more.

“I wrote an A4 sheet of wants. Mark came back the next day with all of them. I still have them now." he said.

Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, was equally kind. She was concerned he was getting too warm in his Ewok costume.

“She was always there with chocolate milk and cookies,” Warwick added.

Despite being in a galaxy far, far away Warwick is even more of a familiar face now thanks to his collaborations with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the creators of The Office.

BBC Two's ‘mocumentary’, Life's Too Short, was a comedy about the everyday problems people of limited height face and was loosely based on Warwick’s own experiences. It was written by Ricky and Stephen.

Warwick said: “I met Ricky Gervais when we were in Extras together. In this industry it is a good idea to keep a book with the names of people you have worked with.

“When I got the idea for Life’s Too Short, I got in touch with him but didn’t hear anything.

“Eventually he and Stephen Merchant got back to me and said they liked it. It was two or three years after that before it appeared on our screens.

“He is a very powerful individual in the entertainment industry. He has helped me with my career.”

Earlier this year, Warwick had another success when his Reduced Theatre Company toured the country with See How They Run. It was a huge success everywhere including the Manchester Opera House.

“We’d like to do another show sometime,” said Warwick, who has half of the minute set stored in his garage.

“It did a lot for short actors and allowed people to see them in a different light.

“They showed that they were more than just pantomime characters and had real talent."

Talking of pantos, Warwick's daughter, Annabelle, now 17, starred in Snow White at the Opera House when she was only seven.

“She stole all the glory,” he added.

“Now aged 17 she is doing her A-levels yet has clinched a part in a film. It is still top secret,” said Warwick, bursting with pride.

His equally small son Harrison, aged 11, doesn’t want a stage career.

Meanwhile, Warwick is busy with rehearsals for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which will be performed at Manchester Opera House from December 5 to January 4.

Warwick is not only playing Prof but directing the panto

He said: "I have not only to create the show and rehearse the other actors, I have to learn the Prof scenes, too. It’s a huge challenge.”

One trick is to keep the Wicked Queen, Priscilla Presley’s cauldron constantly bubbling in her laboratory.

“It draws people in if only subconsciously,” he added.

But he is quick to point out that being a theatre director is a collaborative process.

“I am not authoritarian I listen to the cast’s ideas," added Warwick, who recently attended the Pride of Britain awards with his wife Samantha.

“Theatre is the best. You get feedback instantly. The panto could be a child’s first experience of live theatre. I want their visits to continue.”

- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at Manchester Opera House from December 5 to January 4. For tickets, call 0844 871 3018.