Star Wars (radio): Wikis


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NPR Star Wars Radio Series promotional poster

An expanded radio dramatization of the original Star Wars trilogy was produced in 1981, 1983, and 1996. The first two radio series, based on A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, were produced and broadcast by National Public Radio as part of NPR Playhouse. A dramatization of Return of the Jedi was produced by most of the same team and also broadcast on NPR.

The radio serials were made with the full co-operation of George Lucas, who for one dollar each sold the rights to KUSC-FM, the public radio affiliate at his alma mater, the University of Southern California. Lucas also allowed the use of original sound effects and music from the films.

The adaptations for radio are part of the Star Wars canon within its Expanded Universe.

There are no plans to produce radio dramatizations of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.


Star Wars: A New Hope

Star Wars: A New Hope is a 13-part (5hr51m) radio serial first broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981. It was adapted by Brian Daley from the original film, and directed by John Madden, with music by John Williams and sound design for Lucasfilm by Ben Burtt.

The series fleshes out the storyline by adding a great deal of back story. Examples include Princess Leia's acquisition of the Death Star schematics; Luke Skywalker using his binoculars to observe the movie's opening battle and trying to convince his friends at Toshi Station of what he saw; a skyhopper race that results in Luke's vehicle being damaged (seen in the movie in the background of his Tatooine garage); Han Solo's encounter with Jabba the Hutt's agent, "Heater"; Vader's interrogation of Princess Leia; and Admiral Motti's attempts to convince Grand Moff Tarkin to leverage the Death Star as a political tool.

The episodes are titled:

  1. "A Wind To Shake The Stars"
  2. "Points Of Origin"
  3. "Black Knight, White Princess, And Pawns"
  4. "While Giants Mark Time"
  5. "Jedi That Was, Jedi To Be"
  6. "The Millennium Falcon Deal"
  7. "The Han Solo Solution"
  8. "Death Star's Transit"
  9. "Rogues, Rebels And Robots"
  10. "The Luke Skywalker Initiative"
  11. "The Jedi Nexus"
  12. "The Case For Rebellion"
  13. "Force And Counter Force"



Many of the actors involved in the movie were unavailable to reprise their roles: Harrison Ford, for instance, was committed to the first Indiana Jones movie. Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels returned to reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker and C-3PO respectively.

The supporting cast included James Blendick, Clyde Burton, Bruce French, David Alan Grier, Jerry Hardin, John Harkins, Meshach Taylor, Marc Vahanian, John Welsh, and Kent Williams.

When the series was re-issued on NPR several years later, it was retitled The New Hope (as opposed to the official alternate title, A New Hope), keeping in line with the subtitles of the episodes of the original trilogy films.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

The success of the first series led to a 10-part, four hour 15 minute series based on The Empire Strikes Back, again written by Daley and directed by Madden. The series debuted on NPR on February 14, 1983.

Like the preceding series, The Empire Strikes Back expands on the movie's story by incorporating new scenes. Examples include an Imperial attack on a Rebel convoy set before the film's opening scene and a tense conversation between Solo and Skywalker while the two are stranded in the Hoth wastelands.

National Public Radio's promoted the series in part by getting Craig Claiborne to create his version of Yoda's rootleaf recipe, which the Jedi Master serves Luke in the hut on Dagobah. The recipe ran in magazines and newspapers across the country.

The episodes are titled:

  1. "Freedom's Winter"
  2. "The Coming Storm"
  3. "A Question of Survival"
  4. "Fire and Ice"
  5. "The Millennium Falcon Pursuit"
  6. "Way of the Jedi"
  7. "New Allies, New Enemies"
  8. "Dark Lord's Fury"
  9. "Gambler's Choice"
  10. "The Clash of Lightsabres"


Billy Dee Williams reprised Lando Calrissian, and John Lithgow played Yoda at the same time Madden was directing Lithgow in the play Beyond Therapy. Hamill and Daniels returned to voice Skywalker and C-3PO.

The supporting cast again included David Alan Grier and also included Sam McMurray, Steven Markle, Stephen D. Newman, John Pielmeier, Geoffrey Pierson, Gary Tacon, and Jerry Zaks.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

NPR's plans for a Return of the Jedi radio serial were put on hold when federal funding for NPR was dramatically reduced.[1]. It was not until 1996 that a six-part adaptation of Return of the Jedi was made by Highbridge Audio, the company that had released the first two series on tape and CD.

Like the preceding series, Return of the Jedi expanded its story by incorporating new scenes, such as Luke Skywalker's construction of a new lightsaber. Also introduced in the storyline is a brief appearance of a dancer named Arica in the palace of Jabba the Hutt... a character whose true identity is that of popular Star Wars Expanded Universe character Mara Jade, established to have been present there in the Timothy Zahn-penned novel trilogy starting with "Heir to the Empire".

Scriptwriter Brian Daley died shortly after recording concluded; "additional material" was contributed by John Whitman, who introduced changes required for continuity with the newly developed plan for the prequels, as well as changes identified by the director and cast.

The episodes are titled:

  1. "Tatooine Haunts"
  2. "Fast Friends"
  3. "Prophecies And Destinies"
  4. "Pattern And Web"
  5. "So Turns A Galaxy, So Turns A Wheel"
  6. "Blood Of A Jedi"


The adaptation used many of the original radio cast, though Joshua Fardon took over as Luke and Arye Gross replaced Billy Dee Williams as Lando. Ed Begley, Jr. was the voice of Boba Fett and Edward Asner, speaking only in Huttese, voiced Jabba the Hutt. The only actor who starred in all the feature films as well as the radio dramas was Anthony Daniels.

The supporting cast included Rick Hall, Andrew Hawkes, Sherman Howard, Karl Johnson, John Kapelos, Ron Le Paz, Joe Liss, Paul Mercier, Steven Petrarca, Jonathan Penner, Gil Segel, Nia Vardalos and Ron West.

Other broadcasts and releases

  • There are several radio promos, deleted scenes, and additional music tracks available that originated on previous releases of this collection and in the NPR broadcast versions. They are:
  1. "Radio Promo #1 - Anthony Daniels"
  2. "Radio Promo #2 - Ann Sachs"
  3. "Radio Promo #3 - Mark Hamill"
  4. "Star Wars Radio Drama - Additional Music"
  5. "Star Wars Radio Drama - Alternate Take 'Your Father's Lightsaber'"
  6. "Star Wars Radio Drama - Alternate Take 'Bail and Leia'"
  7. "Return Of The Jedi Radio Drama - Alternate Take 'Speederbike Chase'"
  8. "The Making Of The Radio Dramas"
  • BBC Radio 1 broadcast the series in the UK, with a key scene in the final episode cut for timing.
  • All three series have been released on cassette tape and CD.


  1. ^ "Official website of Brian Daley".  

External links


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