Star Wars (radio)

From Academic Kids

An expanded radio dramatization of the original Star Wars trilogy was produced in 1981, 1983, and 1996. The first two radio series, based on the original Star Wars film 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 sound effects and music from the films.

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


Star Wars

Star Wars is a 13-part (6½ hour) radio serial first broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981. It was adapted by Brian Daley from the film later renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It was 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 that had probably been created but not used by Lucas. For instance, there is a landspeeder race between Luke Skywalker and his friends that takes place days or weeks before the events of the movie.

The episodes were 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). Two of the actors, 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.

The Empire Strikes Back

The success of the series led to a 10-part, five-hour series based on The Empire Strikes Back, again written by Daley and directed by Madden.

One of the unusual promotions that National Public Radio did for the radio serial was to get Craig Claiborne to create his version of Yoda's rootleaf recipe, which the Jedi Master served Luke in the hut on Dagobah. The recipe ran in magazines and newspapers across the country.

The Empire Strikes Back debuted on NPR on February 14, 1983.

The episodes were 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 Enemy"
  8. "Dark Lord's Fury"
  9. "Gambler's Choice"
  10. "The Clash Of Lightsabers"


Billy Dee Williams reprised Lando Calrissian, and John Lithgow played Yoda; at the time Madden was directing Lithgow in the play Beyond Therapy.

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.

Return of the Jedi

According to an interview with scriptwriter Brian Daley published Star Wars Collector in October 1995, NPR's plans were to produce a third radio serial based on Return of the Jedi were cancelled when federal funding for NPR was dramatically reduced after the election of Ronald Reagan. It was not until 1996 that a six-part adaptation of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was made by Highbridge Audio, the company that had released the first two series on tape and CD.

Scriptwriter Brian Daley died before the series was produced, so "additional material" was contributed by John Whitman, who introduced changes required for continuity with the now-planned prequels as well as any changes identified by the director and cast.

The episodes were 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 Ayre Gross replaced Billy Dee Williams as Lando. Ed Begley, Jr. was the voice of Boba Fett and Edward Asner, speaking only in grunts, guest-stars as Jabba the Hutt.

  • Joshua Fardon (Luke Skywalker)
  • Perry King (Han Solo)
  • Ann Sachs (Princess Leia Organa)
  • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
  • Bernard Behrens (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
  • Ayre Gross (Lando Calrissian)
  • Edward Asner (Jabba The Hutt)
  • Paul Hecht (The Emperor)
  • John Lithgow (Yoda)
  • Brock Peters (Lord Darth Vader)
  • Ed Begley, Jr. (Boba Fett)
  • Samantha Bennett (Arica)

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

  • NPR's second broadcast of the series had some small timing cuts to allow for a full credit roll at the end of each episode. Perhaps the most telling of these involves some dialogue in which Leia tells her father about a walk she took in the countryside on Alderaan, which makes the planet's eventual fate seem more of a personal tragedy to her.
  • BBC Radio 1 broadcast the series in the UK, with a key scene in the final episode clumsily cut for timing.
  • All three series were released on tape and CD in the US, in a version retaining NPR's cuts.

External links


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