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Star Wars The Force Awakens premiere - From Belfast to London, stormtroopers hit the red carpet for European premieres

By David Mercer

Stormtroopers, Ewoks and Wookies flooded the streets of London last night as the long-awaited instalment of the space phenomenon Star Wars finally arrived in the UK.

Creator George Lucas said being at the European premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in London was like coming home.

Lucas, who created the franchise in 1977, told red carpet host Alex Zane: "All of the premieres have always been in London. It's like coming home to an event we've done for the last 40 years but this was the biggest by far."

He joined a host of stars including the new director, JJ Abrams, and old and new cast members at London's Leicester Square.

Abrams said he was struck every day while filming by how lucky he was to be working on the movie.

Abrams directed, wrote and co-produced the film and praised newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, saying: "These are two incredible actors, watching them together is amazing."

Harrison Ford, who reprises his role as intrepid traveller and smuggler Han Solo, said "it feels good" to play the character again.

When asked if he had a message for fans, he said: "I hope they enjoy the movie. I think it's a worthy effort. I'm very proud of it, thank you."

Newcomer Ridley, who plays Rey, shouted out to her fans on the red carpet, saying: "May the force be with all of you."

She said being at the premiere was "particularly special because I'm from London, it's good to be home".

British actor Boyega, who plays Finn in the new movie, could not contain his excitement at being in London.

"I'm a boy from Peckham and I'm in a Star Wars movie," he enthused to vlogger Jim Chapman.

Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, said he was overwhelmed.

"It never gets old, it's hard to believe the excitement after all of these years."

The first "stars" of the film to arrive were droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, who ambled down the red carpet.

Critics have hailed the film as a tour de force to rival the original trilogy.

The film - on general release today - has already made UK box office history, selling more than half a million tickets for its opening week at one cinema chain alone. Fans at the first UK screenings will get a head start over the US, where the movie is not released until Friday.

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