Darth Vader returns: Star Wars actor David Prowse to reprise his other role as the Green Cross Man

Actor, 79, played the safety-conscious superhero in public information films 40 years ago

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The Independent Online

He might have played a more famous and deadlier character in Darth Vader, but actor David Prowse is set to resurrect a somewhat friendlier face from his repertoire in the form of the Green Cross Man.

The safety-conscious superhero he played in public information films 40 years ago will return only this time to remind adults rather than children of the importance to "stop, look and listen" – the three original strands of the Green Cross Code - although this time the message is to stop tweeting and listen to traffic not music. The films’ popularity ensured they ran for 15 years until 1990.

After that, Prowse briefly donned his green spandex again as a guest in an episode of BBC2’s Fantasy Football League presented by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel – appearing in a Phoenix from the Flames sketch that featured former Spurs manager Gerry Francis.

And now the character has been brought back to life once again, this time by the insurance company MORE TH>N. The firm says adult behavior on the roads had deteriorated in recent years, blaming the rise of smartphones and ear-encompassing headphones. 11 per cent of pedestrians have been hit by a car or cyclist because they carelessly stepped into the road while they were talking, texting, gaming or tweeting on their smartphones, or listening to loud music through headphones.



Another third (32 per cent) have narrowly avoided a collision after they crossed the road. These near-misses do little to deter adult bad behavior though, with almost a quarter saying they continue to use their smartphones and headphones while they cross the road.

The company’s research showed that pedestrians between the ages of 25-59 are the most likely to be killed or seriously injured on UK roads – accounting for 36 per cent of all casualties. The firm said there was plenty of evidence of adult “recklessness”, with 63 per cent admitting they regularly cross the road in an unsafe place, while 87 per cent will walk out into the road between parked cars.

Dan Robinson, head of motors at MORE TH>N, said: “You only need to spend a few short minutes observing pedestrians to see how many will cross the road while looking at their smartphones or listening to music through headphones. Our road safety study showed that’s there’s not only a basic ignorance of the Green Cross Code – with one in 10 adults thinking it was a recycling scheme – but, there’s a real disregard for basic road safety in today’s society: a consequence not just of technological advancements, but our general impatience when we’re getting from A to B.”

Prowse, now 79, said: “Stop, look and listen: they’ve been the three basic pillars of road safety for decades, but they’re being ignored en masse every single day. When the original Green Cross Man public information films ran, road accident rates reduced significantly. But that was in the days before pedestrians wandered around glued to their smartphones or wearing giant headphones, now it appears adults are completely out of practice with road safety.

“Road safety is a real passion point for me. I hope these new films can have the same positive impact on roadside behaviours as the original series did. As I’ve always said: pedestrians need to use the Green Cross Code, because I won’t be there when they cross the road.”