Dick Van Dyke fell asleep on a surfboard and was pushed back to shore by a group of porpoises, he revealed on a U.S. chat show last night.

The 84-year-old Mary Poppins star said he used to be an excellent surfer, riding a 10ft long board off Virginia Beach on the U.S. East Coast.

“I went out once and fell asleep on that board and I woke up out of sight of land,” he said. 

“And I looked around and I started paddling with the swells, and I started seeing fins swimming around me. I thought, ‘I’m dead’.”

“They turned out to be porpoises. They pushed me all the way to shore – I’m not kidding.”

He did not say when the incident happened.

Van Dyke was on the Craig Ferguson show to promote a DVD edition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He will be returning to Los Angeles next month to perform in Step In Time!, a musical memoir of his singing and dancing career.

– Heather Vandenengel