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The first-ever oral history of Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album
By
Andrea Warner

Published

December 16, 2016

Genres

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When I put the call out for weird Christmas songs a few weeks ago, several people pointed me toward a gem of a record chock full of yuletide oddities: 1980’s Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album.

On the surface, it’s a novelty record ripe for ridicule, for which it’s been on the receiving end plenty over the years. But it also boasts an undeniable pedigree and is full of enough curious and notable moments that it’s impossible to dismiss. After all, Christmas in the Stars marks John Bongiovi’s first professional recording, four years before he became Jon Bon Jovi. Maury Yeston penned many of the original tunes and went on to become a Tony Award-winning Broadway composer. C-3PO sings throughout and George Lucas gave it the thumbs up. And, most unbelievably, "What Can You Get A Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Has a Comb)" is a real song.

So many questions, but it all comes back to one main head-scratcher: how did this get made?

I went in search of answers and spoke at length with Star Wars’ Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), co-producer/engineer Tony Bongiovi and composer Maury Yeston. Each man told me the same thing: I was the first person to interview them about this record in 34 years. From the mad disco money that made it all possible to George Lucas almost pulling the plug, CBC Music proudly presents the first-ever oral history of Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album.

All good stories begin with disco 

Tony Bongiovi, record producer for the Ramones, Talking Heads and recording engineer/co-founder of the Power Station studio in New York City.

Bongiovi: It all started with the Star Wars [and Other Galactic Funk] record. Meco Monardo and I, we’re producing partners, and we produced Gloria Gaynor together, and this came after the Ramones and the Talking Heads and things like that. We decided to make a club version of Star Wars and we thought it would probably sell, oh, maybe 50,000. [It] became the largest-selling instrumental [single] of all time, sold two-and-a-half million singles and almost two million albums, so that’s pretty impressive.

When I was building Power Station Studios in New York City, I was financing it with all my own money and at that time I had royalties coming in from the Ramones and things like that, but I didn’t have enough money to finish the studio. Well, in May of 1977 — I started building the studio in 1976 — Star Wars hit number one and if it wasn’t for that record, if it wasn’t for Star Wars becoming a big hit, there would be no Power Station.

After that [Star Wars disco] success, we got the attention of George Lucas, and we decided that we wanted to make a Christmas album. That was something I’d always wanted to do but never had the opportunity to do for all the years I’ve been producing records.

We wanted to make a Christmas album and we wanted to use the same model that we used for the Star Wars hit record that we produced. We started by soliciting original songs.

Enter Maury Yeston, a struggling composer who had been writing songs since he was six and studying music his whole life. In 1980, he was in his early 30s teaching at Yale when he got word about a possible gig.

Bongiovi: Maury at the time was not a Broadway composer like he is now. We met him through a mutual friend and he wrote some songs for us. At the time that he wrote those, he was kind of a struggling composer, he really didn’t have anything working for him, and we recognized his talent very early on and that’s how we got Maury to write those songs. I’m still pretty good friends with him now. He’s had huge success on Broadway and you call him and he’s still a nice guy.

Yeston: I was working on musical theatre and I was writing Nine by that time, and a friend of mine who had written some pop tunes during the 1960s said, "Look, I mentioned your name to this guy. They’re having an unbelievable amount of trouble and I’m thinking maybe you can be helpful for them and maybe this can be some kind of gig for you." I said, "Well, what is it?" "It’s Meco Monardo, a great trombone player, and he’s working with Tony Bongiovi and some other people, and they’re wanting to do a Star Wars Christmas album. They got permission from George Lucas." Why? Because it was the disco era. You could take "I’m a Little Tea Cup" and if you put it over a disco beat, that would be a hit. So Meco and Tony had gotten permission from Lucasfilm to do a disco album using the John Williams music from Star Wars. That sold like a zillion records. They made so much money, they built the Power Station on East 53rd and it’s still there. They put so much money into that recording studio that they put a garage for their sports cars on the second floor that brought the car up from the street to the garage, so they didn’t have to worry about having a parking spot. That’s how much money there was.

So [my friend explained], "Well, they’re going around to every major writer they can find and they’re saying, could you contribute a song? They can’t get enough material and they can’t figure out how to hold it all together." So I met with Meco and I said, "Look, this may sound ridiculous to you, but if you want to do a Star Wars Christmas album you have to have a story. You have to have some spine, even the lightest spine, to hang it on. I’ve learned that because I’m writing musicals and that’s what you need for a musical, you can’t just put a bunch of songs up on the stage. You need a story, you need a title, you need a concept. Maybe I can help you out, because that’s one of the things that I do."

He said, "How would we do a Star Wars Christmas album?" I go, "Well you can’t just randomly go talk to a bunch of different people and say, 'Can you give us a song that has something to do with Star Wars and Christmas without unifying it in some way, without there being a concept?'.... This is obviously Christmas in the world of Star Wars, which means this is in a galaxy far, far away, thousands of years ago. It’s not now. So call it Christmas in the Stars."

He said, "Wow, that’s a great title." "OK, it’s now Christmas in the Stars, what’s going on?" "What’s going on is that R2-D2 and C-3PO and all the characters are celebrating Christmas in a galaxy far, far away, in a time long, long ago. They probably don’t even have Santa Claus, it would be a different, like, S. Claus or Sunny Claus, his cousin."

That’s how we were spit-balling this. And, I said, "Obviously C-3PO and R2-D2 and all the little droids would be making the Christmas presents for Santa instead of the elves." So we’re having a good time. Why am I having a good time? Because I’m thinking only of my seven-year-old son who is completely obsessed with Star Wars.... For me, the audience was doing something fun, silly, entertaining, literally on the level of Sesame Street, which was what my son was watching every day and I was watching it right along with him, that would be funny and hip and cool especially for kids. Not to mention the fact that I had never had any note of my music ever recorded commercially. This was a chance and an opportunity to get a job to do that, so I was motivated in so many different ways.

Getting down to work

The turnaround was fast. Yeston began writing in the fall of 1980. The album was slated to come out in November via RSO Records and be available for the Christmas season. Monardo and Bongiovi were already in the studio recording while Yeston was still fleshing out the narrative structure, writing songs and essentially sketching out a musical theatre map for the record.

Yeston: They were up against the wall and they didn’t have much material at all. So I came back and said, OK, this is what we do, here are some things I wrote. It’s gotta open with an opening number, which says here’s the story and here’s what’s going on here.... So the opening number is 'Christmas in the Stars' and there they all are, making toys for the kids. "I’ve got mistletoe and holly/ I’ve got 20 different kinds of lollipops/ with 20 different kinds of chocolate bars/ everyone will be excited, even I am quite delighted/ and ready for Christmas in the stars."

When you’re writing like that, it’s just like being out of town with a musical in trouble. You don’t have time to screw around, you just gotta go. You’re writing at a million miles an hour. I thought, if we can get the rights to "Sleigh Ride," why don’t we have a thing where R2 is hearing people singing "Silent Night" off in the distance, and he says to C-3PO, "What’s that?" and C-3PO says, "Oh, that’s singing, don’t you know what that is?" And R2 says, "Can you teach me how to do it?" and C-3PO says, "What, me teach you how to sing? Don’t be ridiculous." But every once in a while you get a lyric.

Now I know that there are a massive number of people who crap all over this album, and I understand it. It’s not rocket science, it’s not Sweeney Todd, and I get it. But, "there’s a kind of sound that you won’t find in my memory core/ When you add it to a note that sound is just before/ and another one after that and another three and four/ and suddenly you’re singing notes galore/ if you will only give it a try and sing it clearly through/ your voice will float like a feather and we’ll sing together, R2." I’m not embarrassed by that lyric. Nor am I embarrassed by "Your every friend is bettin’ there’s a great duet inside you." It was great fun to do.

I wrote "Christmas in the Stars" and I wrote "Merry, Merry Christmas" and I thought it might be fun, and I think my son and all of his contemporaries would love the idea of receiving Star Wars-y, science fiction presents: "a baseball that throws itself/ if you’ve been good this year/ it may appear on your toy shelf." The other one was a robot that’s counting sheep and then he falls asleep.

But finally I said, I have to get serious about this. Whatever element there is in me as a writer that thinks the whole concept of the character of Yoda is fascinating, I really want to write something genuine here. At some point, the way to end this, is for somebody to say, "What is this Christmas anyways? What does Christmas mean? Why are we here?" Who else could tell you that but Yoda? So I wrote a song called "The Meaning of Christmas" for Yoda.

So now everything is written and we’re in production and we’re moving at a million miles an hour. We’re now going to go to the second stage, which is writing, producing, arranging, etc. So the first thing that has to happen is demos. I did the demo for "Merry, Merry Christmas" and in order to do it, I made my voice go very high and imitated a droid. I overdubbed my voice about 30 times and then we put it through some various electronic things that we had and that was the demo. Then I finished "The Meaning of Christmas" for Yoda and I did the demo in Yoda’s voice, and then we did get Anthony Daniels and did the arrangements and Anthony arrived from London and I met him, talked to him and we did some scratch vocals.

Anthony Daniels is the actor and voice of C-3PO. He’s played the character in all Star Wars films, numerous Star Wars-related projects, and will appear in the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens film in 2015.

Bongiovi: Naturally when Star Wars [the album] hit, we were in good favour with George Lucas, because there’s royalties that get paid to John Williams and George Lucas and all those other people. Anthony Daniels flew in from England and he did the voices. We got him via Lucasfilm. Everything that we did was sanctioned by George Lucas’s company because we used a lot of stuff that was proprietary and they gave us permission to do that, including Daniels. We wanted to get as many original things as we could to put on there and Chewbacca didn’t work out too well, he wasn’t very musical, so that didn’t work, but he [Daniels] did. He did a good job on the record.

[Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher] don’t sing, so there wasn’t too much we could do with them. Although, I could have had access to both of them. But at the time, what were we going to do? He’s an actor, she’s an actress ... if they could sing, it would be different. Mark Hamill, we could have gotten all of them, but they’re not singers, so they don’t fit on a record album.

Daniels: I was actually rehearsing for a play in London, rehearsing every day of the week, and then [RSO Records] needed — as a lot of things are in show business — it now. They’d been planning it for years [laughs] and it comes down to, "You’ve got to be here on Saturday." They wanted me for that week and I said, "I can only come on Saturday and Sunday." I finished work on Friday and got to Heathrow, got on the Concord, and so few people actually flew it in the end, which is sad, because it was gorgeous, and flew it to JFK I suppose, and went straight to the studio. I have an idea that the producer met me in the limo with a bottle of champagne, it was nine o’clock [Saturday morning] or something ... I think he managed to break the stem off because roads in New York are whatever, and so we were bumping along in the back of this limo trying to be cool, but it didn’t really work [laughs]. There were splashes of champagne everywhere. Anyways, it was a nice idea. We go to the studio and it was just me; sadly there was no orchestra there. It was all just click tracks and all that kind of thing and very little rehearsal time, very little preparation, so we just went straight into it.

Yeston: [Daniels] wasn’t a singer, so he sort of had to Rex Harrison the whole thing. I taught him how to do that.

Daniels: It’s quite odd. I think I did have quite a big orchestral track, and it is kind of interesting hearing a great orchestra through your headset and they are hearing you quite naked, really, coming in and out of the track. But it does give you a great feeling of power working with an orchestra and the sprechgesang. The Germans invented it, it means people who can’t sing and warble along on the beat as it were. Rex Harrison was famous for doing that. It’s speak-singing. It wasn’t until I did Star Wars in Concert that I was backed up onstage by a symphony orchestra, and the power of that sound is pretty good. Otherwise it was just hard work and many, many retakes.

At six o’clock that night, which of course was 11 o’clock my time, I was actually gaga, because we’d worked all day and it wasn’t to do with the champagne. I was tired. The next morning I dragged everybody back into the studio at seven o’clock in the morning because by that time it was 12 o’clock my time. They were all a bit weary, but you know, showbiz people get on with it, especially studio crews, and we worked until I left at three and got the afternoon Concord back again to Heathrow. Then I was back rehearsing in central London on the Monday. In London, there was no limo or champagne, I was on the bus heading to the rehearsal room. But that’s been the fun part of my career, if you could call it that: one minute, Concords wherever, and the next minute, basically on your bike.

The wookiee song

Yeston: I wanted to integrate all of the characters I loved, Princess Leia and Han Solo and of course the Wookiee who was basically a teddy bear. Especially to an eight-year-old. So, I thought, of course since the plot is that the droids are making toys for everybody, I wrote the intro: a scarf for Skywalker, something else for Princess Leia, but what do we get the wookiee? So I wrote "What Can You Get a Wookiee For Christmas (If He Already Owns a Comb)" and I knew in my heart it was, on a molecular level, I’m reaching into the roots of my childhood and hearing all these crazy, silly songs. This is a classic novelty song. What do you get a wookiee when he already owns a comb? The answer, of course, is a brush.

Bongiovi: By the time we made that record, Empire Strikes Back had come out with the wookiees and we wanted to push as much of Star Wars in the record as would work. It was kind of a neat idea at the time, it was a nice melody it had, so that’s how that made it in there.

Daniels: "What Can You Get a Wookiee For Christmas": people love that. I wasn’t actually involved in that, but you’re making me remember now, actually. Sadly, I don’t have a vinyl player anymore, so I just sort of gaze sadly at the album cover.... It’s ready for a re-release! And I’m sure in Episode VII of Star Wars, somebody will be playing it in the background there. Probably part of the Evil Empire or something like that [laughs].

Quote by Maury Yeston reads: I'm not the only one who could be blackmailed by this album.

Star Wars and Jon Bon Jovi

Bongiovi’s second cousin was an aspiring singer named John. Christmas in the Stars is famous for being the future Bon Jovi’s first professional recording ("R2 D2, We Wish You a Merry Christmas"), but the album also boasts, according to Yeston, Bon Jovi's first writing credit.

Bongiovi: When I started working with my cousin, John, I started working with CBS Records at the time and I couldn’t get him a deal. I tried to do everything I could to get him out here. I knew that that record [Christmas in the Stars] was going to come out and I knew that it was going to sell, so he sang on it. If you have a hit, then you can turn around and say, "Hey, this album is a hit, let’s turn around and sign him." But nobody wanted to sign John, it was a big uphill battle. I put him on that, a Budweiser commercial, anything I could do. But that’s how he ended up on that track: "If this album hits big and you’re the lead singer, then I can do the record with you." ... It took me a long time. I couldn’t get him signed! [A few years later] a radio station held a band contest and I said, "OK, let’s try that," and the rest is history.

Yeston: I think the history of this is somewhat inaccurate, so this is to the best of my recollection: Tony Bongiovi, who was one of the co-producers of the disco album and was one of the co-owners of the Power Station, had a young cousin in New Jersey named John Bongiovi, and he really, really wanted to be a part of this album. And John wrote "The Odds Against Christmas." Now, "R2 D2, We Wish You a Merry Christmas," [which John Bongiovi sang lead on] was Meco’s. But John wrote, and I remember hearing his demo, [sings] "the odds against Christmas are amazing/ it’s 365 to one" and I’ve always thought, I am not the only one who could be blackmailed by this album. [Laughs] Fair is fair. What was he, 16 or 17 years old? Then finally Meco had the idea that he’d have this simple song — he’s a great marketer and a very smart business man, and a lot of fun — and Meco said he’s got this little tune called "R2 D2, We Wish You A Merry Christmas," and he said, "Let us record all of the children of every executive on both coasts who were involved in Star Wars," and we did.

All the kids, who ranged in age from maybe five to 11, were singing "R2 D2, We Wish You A Merry Christmas" and my son was among them. It was a very large room, Studio A, and we split it into four areas, four corners, and there was a microphone hanging down from each corner, so you had fairly separate tracks. There was a percentage of the kids who couldn’t sing, so we put all of those kids under one of the four microphones and we kept that microphone off [laughs].

The Yoda hiccup and the Force bows out

Bongiovi: We had a high school choir to sing, 50 kids from my high school in New Jersey and we said, "If you want, you can learn this and we set it up at the Power Station and we brought them in on a bus and we fed them sandwiches and then we had Darth Vader come over to entertain them.

George Lucas liked what we did. At the time, we had to get his approval for just about everything that we did. He didn’t really object to the material or the songs or production, but he wanted to make sure we were showing the Star Wars characters in a good way and George did scrutinize everything that we did. It was a pretty easy-going [working relationship]; Meco did most of the talking with him and sending the tracks and having phone conversations, which I would be involved with: "How do you like that?" "This is what we’re going to do here." He’d say, "OK." He’s not a music producer so he depended on us to make that record, and as I said, we were so successful with the original Star Wars record, he gave us a lot of latitude in the production and he gave us whatever we needed to make it sound more like the Star Wars characters and give it more of a Star Wars feel.

Yeston remembers it differently.

Yeston: Everything was going smoothly, then we got terrible news. Frank Oz, who was going to sing "The Meaning of Christmas," could not come and sing. Frank Oz was at the time in London, filming and recording The Muppet Movie, in which he played Miss Piggy. And Frank, according to what we were told, could not be Yoda during the time his persona was Miss Piggy. [Laughs] It was like Marlon Brando.

We didn’t quite know what to do, but we figured that we’ll figure that out. But before we even had to confront that problem, RSO sent a message to Meco and everybody in the Power Station, we were three-quarters of the way done the album, saying the album is down. The album is cancelled. And Meco was distraught.

Nothing in this entire process was, "Hey, let’s capitalize on Star Wars and make a lot of money." It was that we love the movies so much, isn’t that a lark, what fun. Just to be close to this phenomenon. So now the album’s done, it’s over. Why? George has serious concerns about any mixture of the metaphor of the Force with Christianity. I said, so, the problem is my song, "The Meaning of Christmas."

It’s very pretty music and the lyric was, and it was very like Yoda, "I will tell you about many, many years ago/ on a planet far from here/ there appeared a new star shining for a single year/ men were far more different then/ much they did not understand." It was real! It was one of those real songs, and the message was love each other, be kind to each other, be good to each other. And people were like crying hearing this song. But George did not want to intermingle the message of the Force with Christianity. And that was it, the album was over, case closed.

It was like Mickey and Judy in the barn [in Babes in Arms]. I said, "Hey, wait a minute, that’s not what we do when we have a problem with the show!" Let’s rewrite the lyric. Who do I speak to? So I called the vice president of Lucas Films, Sid Ganis, and I said, "Hi, you don’t know me, I’m completely unknown, an insignificant songwriter who’s involved in this album and we’ve just heard it’s cancelled because of this." I said, "Mr. Ganis, first of all, are you sitting in a jacuzzi out there?" He said, "No." I said, "Mr. Ganis, on Broadway, when we do these shows, if the song is not working for any reason, we don’t close the show and lose all the production money, we repair it. 'The Meaning of Christmas' was an attempt to have us sing about the religious connotations and the message of Christmas, but Christmas isn’t just Jesus Christ, it’s also Santa Claus, wreaths on every door, decorating your Christmas tree, it’s a yule log and families coming together to give gifts. Let me rewrite the lyric." He said, "OK."

So I rewrote the lyric to what it is, which is obviously a shallow, treacley, insignificant, clichéd list of Christmassy kinds of things. I did it because we had done an album, we had all worked very hard, a lot of people were relying on it. It was an opportunity to get some fun things recorded. It started my career, I guess, as a commercial songwriter, and I felt I need to do this, for everybody and for myself: what’s wrong with a treacly Christmas message? We hear it all the time. It’s a light-hearted entertainment ... and the album’s back on!

The final touches

After trying and failing to record versions better than Yeston’s demos for three of the songs, Monardo asked Yeston to step up and record the tracks for the album.

Yeston: I said, well, we need a name and I’m not going to put my own name on it because I’m not going to do that. I don’t want to get fired from Yale and I’m fine writing this but I don’t want to sound like a recording artist who sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks, so I said we’ll just call the recording artist of those songs the Star Wars Intergalactic Droid Choir and Chorale, so I am the Star Wars Intergalactic Droid Choir and Chorale and my son loved it. "The Meaning of Christmas" is me, too. I’m S. Claus. That’s me at the end. So this was the start of my writing career, my recording career, my commercial career. And now they’re going to release the album, right? We’re on board. And they got the artwork from Star Wars and I gotta tell you, I raised an eyebrow, because I thought we’d get something that looked like the Star Wars logo. I was really surprised when we didn’t get that, and I don’t know why, but I think they just had a feeling, like, "Maybe we should distance ourselves slightly from this?" [Laughs]

A final blow

Yeston: Two days after the album is released, I went to the corporate offices of RSO Records because I thought I’d like to ask them about the music publishing or something and the front door was locked. They had gone out of business. They went out of business two days after the album was released, never to be heard from again. Recently I found out it was because of some lawsuit that was being threatened and they just decided to close the doors. So, there was no record company behind it. They had an initial pressing of about 150,000 and that was it. No promotion, no anything. OK, so fine. But all I thought was, OK, now there are only two things that would be nice: 1. If some of this, if it had any quality at all could be heard, and 2. If I don’t lose my job at Yale. So the record’s released and "What Can You Get a Wookiee" as a Christmas novelty song shoots to number 69 on the Billboard top 100, which was just mind-blowing to me.

The lost songs

Bongiovi: I don’t have the album in front of me, I don’t have it anymore unfortunately, but I think we probably cut 18 things and then eliminated some [nine] of them. Whatever’s on the album is what made the record ... I don’t have [the masters or originals], they would be with the record company, RSO, I don’t know who picked up his catalogue so I don’t know where they might be, but there’s some more original stuff out there. There are lost Star Wars sound recordings out there somewhere.

Daniels: It’s one of my proudest moments: it didn’t win an Emmy or a Tony Award or any of that and it didn’t become a long-running musical, but I think there’s scope for it and I think there’s time for a re-release, possibly a remix, I don’t know ... I think basically we ought to bring out a special edition, a special three-box set director’s cut.... There is a quest for fans everywhere to dig up beaches, golf courses, find where these things are buried. It will never happen again. I hope [Bongiovi] was proud of it. It was one of those giggle things.

Yeston: I actually heard them and it’s really good they can’t be found. [Laughs]

Christmas in the Stars: the legacy

Daniels: The record came out and I think some of my friends who heard it were — you know, I have proper actor friends who were a bit askance at some of the things I get up to. It’s a fairly esoteric piece of art. Some people would be afraid of owning up to listening to it. Possibly they did under the dead covers of night with a torch or whatever, but it’s a fairly wacky thing. And it’s a sort of charming Christmas — you can get away with it at Christmas, you know. We have a history of fun stuff, Christmas songs, don’t we? It’s got its place in the annals.

More than half my life, on and off, has been spent doing things that have to do with 3PO, that I’m incredibly lucky. People talk about typecasting or whatever, but the sensible reply is, "Yes, aren’t I lucky?" [Laughs] You know, I’m sure, that I refused to meet George Lucas [originally]. I wasn’t interested in being in this silly film, but then I went to meet him. Can you imagine now if I hadn’t done that? It’s very curious. I think it was my destiny, just as it was Anakin’s destiny to go to the dark side, it was my destiny to be C-3PO and to be on this funny LP. It’s given me huge fun around the world and so many people who are kind of amazed to meet me in the end, because I’ve been a voice or an image for them for so many years. It becomes part of a tradition. I think a lot of families have the same Christmas decorations they get out of the box every year and put them up, and it’s kind of nostalgic. They sing Christmas carols and drink eggnog — not that I would ever drink eggnog, it’s truly one of the most disgusting things ever. You might paint walls with it. Dry white wine myself. But it is part of the family tradition for many people, getting out the tinsels and baubles, and the Christmas sounds [in C-3PO’s voice]: Christmas in the Stars is part of that tradition, and I’m very happy to see the people sitting around the log fire and singing along and laughing and going, "God, that!" [Laughs]

Yeston: It kind of disappeared and then it was famous as this really awful thing, like Carrie the Musical or whatever. I think it’s interesting. You called me and so I thought why don’t I take a look at Amazon and see what people are saying about it. So I looked at the 13 five-star reviews, which I never do, and here are all these people saying, "Oh, our family for 25 years, every year we’ve pulled this thing out and it’s so silly and we sing and have a good time and it’s fun." And then of course, the one-star reviews are, "Is there anything on the great chain of being lower than this?" [Laughs] I’m OK with that.

Daniels: Every few weeks or months, some new [Star Wars] project comes up: Star Wars Rebels, The Clone Wars, now there’s Lego Star Wars: the Yoda Chronicles. I’ve just been writing for this new book, which is secret but coming out next Christmas, so it was very odd going back to Episode VII on the set because for me, I’d been doing this last week, voiceovers for the animation series but with a different style, I will tell you. The Yoda Chronicles are very funny, much of Star Wars Episode VII is not very funny, it’s really quite serious, so I had to slightly rethink. But it was totally normal to me — that’s really weird to say, isn’t it? But it’s normal to me to be C-3PO in these scenes. It’s totally normal to see Harrison Ford being Han Solo and Carrie Fisher being Princess Leia. It was not a shock to me. And for the people looking after me, my dressers and so on, they were ecstatic, because they had been fans early on and now they’ve joined the film industry as prop makers and model makers, and there they were working with the real C-3PO. It has become a bit of a family and having J.J. Abrams get so many of the original people back, it did feel like a family.... It’s not over yet, Episode VII will come out this time next year and we can do a re-record of Christmas in the Stars and find those other tracks.

Yeston: No, no, no. I’m still living with the guilt of it! [Laughs]

Find me on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner