Dumfries’ Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre reopened on Sunday for the first time since the pandemic lockdown.

And it offered movie-goers the chance to see the 40th anniversary release of The Empire Strikes Back – the second Star Wars film.

Like Darth Vader, visitors for the popular showings had to wear a face covering for the duration of their visit and adhere to Covid-19 restrictions.

And added extra screenings of The Empire Strikes Back were also shown on Tuesday and Wednesday this week to meet demand.

It has offered us an opportunity to delve into the Standard’s archives to reveal some of our favourite Star Wars stories with links to Dumfriesshire.

Lockerbie’s Pam Betts played an Ewok in Return of the Jedi from 1981. The pint-sized grandmother said she has fond memories of

the cast and has kept in touch with some of them over the years – still feeling part of the “Star Wars family”.

She said: “I was so lucky to share in the Star Wars magic and play an Ewok. I’m still proud of it. When the film originally came out, word got around Lockerbie that I’d played an Ewok and it was amazing. People were asking for my autograph.


“We filmed on this huge set at Elstree Studios, high off the ground, as Ewoks lived in a rainforest.

“I filmed for five weeks and was paid £500 each week – which was a lot of money then.”

Pam was born in London and came to live at Sandyhills in the Stewartry with her family at the age of 10, before moving back to London where she met and married her former husband.

Pam, who was once refused a bar job because of her height, says it was a “dare” and her short stature that landed her the part.

She said: “One day, when my daughter Laura was just six months old, my then husband came back from work to our home at Boreham Wood, just round the corner from the Elstree Studios, to say that he had seen an advertisement calling for people of four feet five inches tall.

“I’m that exactly and we had always had a giggle over my

height because he’s six feet two inches tall. It was a bit of a dare so I went along to the studio and the next thing I was taken on as an Ewok. As quick as that.

“I used to take Laura to the studios with me and I enjoyed collecting autographs from the stars for her. I’ve still got some of them including a special Star Wars Christmas card from Dave Prowse.”

In 2017, actor Duncan Pow – who plays Rebel fighter Sergeant Melshi in blockbuster Rogue One – spoke of his childhood years spent in Lockerbie.

He married his Mexican sweetheart Yurinda Ortegaojn in a civil ceremony in Moffat in the same year the film came out.

Duncan said: “I’ve been going to watch the movies since I was a kid, so to be immortalised in one of these Star Wars films is a dream come true.

“Empire Strikes Back at the Rex cinema in Lockerbie was one of the first films I went to see and I remember thinking ‘Wow, man’.

“Then jump forward 30-odd years later and I’m in it. To be in a Star Wars film and saying lines and blowing things up – yeah, it was a childhood dream fulfilled.”

Star Wars superfan Allan Farrell needed his own Jedi powers to get his amazing tribute finished for the 2015 release of Star Wars film, The Force Awakens (Episode VII).

He spent more than two years building a life-size model of the Sith Lord, Darth Vader, in the kitchen of his Lockerbie home, juggling his sci-fi DIY with a heavy work schedule as a plumber and family life.

And he admitted it would have “been easier to just take on the whole Galactic Empire” instead.

Allan said: “I absolutely love Star Wars and have been a fan since the early 1980s. I’ve watched the films over and over and collect memorabilia.

“My favourite film has to be The Empire Strikes Back.

“Darth Vader, of course, is my all-time favourite character. He has it all. He’s a cool villain and has the looks to go with it. His costume is brilliant.”

So when Allan spotted a life-sized costume of the cyborg in the home of one of his customers, it gave him an epic idea.


“The guy told me he had been a cartoonist for Disney and when he retired they gave him the costume as a gift,” he recalled.

“It was the real thing and looked fantastic in his house. I thought ‘I want one’ so I realised I had no option but to make one myself.”

A Dumfriesshire grandad amassed an amazing collection of more than 5,000 toys and movie props – including many from the Star Wars films.

Derek Payne’s childhood enthusiasm for all things cosmic began when he watched the original Star Wars movie 43 years ago and inspired him to collect space-related items.

Many of Derek’s treasures had been on public display in a toy museum he set up above his antiques business in Moffat for visitors to enjoy over the years. But, last year, he decided to have a major clear-out … to make room for more.

He said: “I’m getting older now and it’s time for someone else to enjoy all these toys and movie props.”

It went under the hammer at auctioneers, Anderson and Garland, in Newcastle.

Fans of Star Wars had more than 150 items to choose from, in the main manufactured by Kenner. Derek’s collection included an AT-AT Walker and Imperial Shuttle.


Oddities in keen-eyed Derek’s collection included two Jawas with plastic capes and Snaggletooths in both blue and red — the blue being relatively rare as the toy was originally produced in the wrong colour and had to be remade.

The Star Wars merchandise alone sold for £24,400, with the collection of 800 lots in total fetching £130,000 in the two-day sale. There were bids from as far away as Australia and Peru.

The top seller was a Star Wars Yan Solo for the French market in its original packaging, which went under the hammer for £1,090.

The figure of Han Solo in a trench coat was placed on the wrong background card, making it both rare and highly desirable.

A Star Wars Ben Kenobi by Meccano, also made for the French market and in its original packaging, sold for the world record price of £840 to an internet bidder.

Apparently, these could be picked up for as little as £15 around 10 years ago.

After the sale, Derek said: “I’ve really enjoyed collecting these toys and movie props but it’s been great to see the interest in them and to know they’re off in safe hands to new homes.