SFX Issue 23

March 1997

Darth Vader: My Part In His Downfall

By Robert Rankin

Back in the late ’70s I worked for Studio And Television Hire in Farm Lane, Fulham. STV supplied props to the TV and film industries. We did a lot of work for films like The Elephant Man and that Sherlock Holmes film nobody can remember the name of (the one with Christopher Plummer in it).

Obviously, with the kind of stuff we hired out we weren’t likely to do much for the Star Wars films, but during its making the production buyer popped in to say hello and STV’s guv’nor, Mr Bigg, not a man to let a potential buyer escape without hiring something, asked if there was anything we could do.

“No,” said the buyer. “It’s all futuristic stuff on this one. The studio will make most of it.”

“So what are you looking for today?” asked Mr Bigg.

“Futuristic drinking glasses.”

“Rod,” called Mr Bigg to me (he always got my name wrong). “Show our friend a selection of futuristic drinking glasses.”

“We don’t have any,” I said.

Mr Bigg took me aside and pressed £20 in my hand. “Then go out and bloody well buy some while I keep him talking.”

I went up to the market in North End Road and bought ten quid’s worth of coloured glass flower vases which looked pretty futuristic to me. The stall-holder wrote me out an invoice for £15 and I pocketed the difference (look, I was hard up, okay?).

I returned to STV and showed the vases to the buyer.

“Perfect,” he said.

Mr Bigg valued the glasses at a daft £100. The buyer took them for a three-week hire of £20 and half of them got broken, which made STV another £50. I didn’t feel so bad about the fiver, then.

I had long forgotten all this by the time I went to see Star Wars at the cinema. But then came that scene in the Cantina, and – THERE THEY WERE! There were my North End Road coloured glass vases being drunk out of by Hollywood stars.

I often hear Star Wars fans remark that it was really the glasses that made that scene. If not the entire movie. I just nod my head and say nothing...