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Friday, 10 August 2018

Star Wars on TV: glimpsing the characters on the small screen in the 1970s

Star Wars meets Donny and Marie, September 1977 

In the days before home video, films disappeared for years between their big-screen release and their appearance on TV.

That meant Star Wars fans lapped up any appearance, however fleeting, of the film's characters on TV.

In today's recap of old posts (while I spend August re-charging and working on new material), I'd like to point you towards some of those experiences.

There was a lot to take in about Star Wars. Every frame was filled with detail and activity, and it all flicked by so fast. Some people were lucky enough to see it multiple times. Others gazed endlessly at pictures in books, comics and magazines. But if even a few seconds of the movie were shown on television, it was a major cause for excitement.

One of the most exciting Star Wars-related shows on television was The Making of Star Wars, shown in the US on September 16 1977, and in the UK on June 16 1978. Not only did we get to watch substantial clips from the film, but we saw behind the scenes, and I'll bet plenty of kids dreamt of getting into film-making as a result.

Just one week after that show's US transmission came the cast's appearance on The Donny and Marie Show. It's as 1970s as brown polyester, which is a good part of its charm.

The publicity drive for Star Wars in the UK really stepped up in December 1977 and in this clip from the chat show Parkinson, you'll hear Alec Guinness speaking of the film with an enthusiasm he would not always show later on.

Around the same time, Mark Hamill appeared on the British children's show Blue Peter and was a charming and enthusiastic ambassador for the film.

Clips from Star Wars featured in a number of TV commercials, including this one for the British youth magazine Look-In, in March 1978.

In April 1978, the Academy Awards took place. The top prizes went to Woody Allen's Annie Hall, but Star Wars still figured strongly, as we saw in a three-part look at the occasion. Visit parts one, two and three.

TV glimpses of Star Wars were becoming less frequent, but in November 1978, we saw almost the entire cast reunited for the bizarre event that was the Star Wars Holiday Special. I looked at its most excruciating moments (part one and two) but also tried to see the positive side before wrapping up with an even-handed look at this very strange episode in Star Wars history.

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