The Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel with JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy – as it happened

A new teaser trailer, the new Han, Luke and Leia and a Star Wars party you have to C-3PO to believe

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19.15 And that’s it from us for this evening. We’re off to a galaxy far, far, away but, much like the sand people, we’ll be back – and in greater numbers – with all your Episode VII news as it happens.

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19.05 “Chewie, we’re home!”

18.55 It’s a Star Wars family reunion on stage as Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew raise the roof.

Along with the new Stormtroopers.

18.40 Harrison Ford’s Han Solo will be “very actively involved” in Star Wars Episode VII. Kathleen Kennedy and JJ Abrams have confirmed it folks.

Never mind that though, meet your new leads: Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. Could they be the new Luke, Leia and Han Solo?

18.35 Meet BB8, a droid so cute you could almost swallow your own fist.

They thought he might be CGI but he’s very very real, and possibly about to throw down with R2-D2.

18.30 R2-D2 is in the house. Holmes and Fullerton turned to each other and mouthed “so cool”.

And we’ve been introduced to four new droids too.

18.25 There’s a huge cheer for the Creature Shop team in London as they get a shout out from JJ and Kathleen.

It’s almost as loud as the cheer for the new planet, Jaku/Jacoo – even our Star Wars experts Huw and Jonathan can’t agree how we might spell it. However, we do know it’s hot and it’s dusty and we’ll learn more about it today.

Could it be? Will we get a trailer? 

18.20 The crowd loves the fact that they’ll be moving away from CGI and back to the real sets this time around.

“The thing that struck me was how real Star Wars felt when you first saw New Hope”, says Abrams.

He admits that there will be a lot of CGI but they want to use as many practical effects as possible. “It’s great for the actors too”, he notes.

18.15 “It was mind-blowing. 11 years old is a great time to see Star Wars for the first time. It was the first time a movie made me laugh and believe in another world in that way. It was so full of hope.” – JJ Abrams

Despite loving the franchise, he said NO the first time he was asked to direct Episode VII

“I said no, partly because it was an incredibly daunting thing, partly because my family has a plan, partly because I had been doing a lot of sequels and wanted to break away from that.”

18.10 Well, this host has basically just insulted the whole room by telling us it’s like a cantina. A wretched hive of scum and villainy? We are NOT impressed.

We are, however, impressed with these new hashtags. Check ’em out on Twitter for yourself.

18.06 In California they’re being encouraged to put their lightsabers in the air and wave ’em around like ya just don’t care…. or something along those lines.

People in the London audience are unsure whether they should join in with the hip hop dancing.

18.01 And with a bit of Imperial March hip hop we’re off, joining the live streams around the world!

17.51 10 MINUTE WARNING

The temperature is rising as we wait for the Force to Awaken. Jonathan Holmes says: “Lots of people in costume in a very full room. Lots of awkwardly placed lightsabers.”

Meanwhile, Warwick is judging a costume contest and the results are interesting.

Warwick: “Why are you dressed as Chewbacca?”
Chewbacca: “Rawarhaoooooooo”
Warwick: “Right, this is going to be an interesting interview…”

17.50 The quiz questions are coming thick and fast. Of course, Jonathan Holmes and Huw Fullerton are bossing it from their seats, while staring jealously at a little boy who’s carting about a box as big as him with an awesome action figure inside.

They are extremely jealous.

17.39 Warwick’s popped up to the big screen to address the audience. “Now you know what it feels like for me when I stand in front of my 40 inch TV” he says.

To help us pass the time he’s leading the crowd in an Endor Wave and hosting a Star Wars quiz.

Did you know that Yoda was originally going to be played by a monkey carrying a cane and wearing a mask?

Well, you do now.

17.32 They promised us special guests on the panel but there are a few in Leicester Square too. Warwick Davis is on the red carpet.

16.31 We’re on our way to Leicester Square to watch all the Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens action unfold on the big screen as director JJ Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy kick off the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calafornia.

Will there be a new trailer? Will we meet the new Sith Lord? Are those leaked character names real?

While you’re waiting, why not find out how to tell if you’ve found your Star Wars soulmate? And discover how the new films and books fit into the story of Star Wars.

Stay tuned: we’ll be kicking things off just before 6pm and all the latest updates aren’t a galaxy far, far away…

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will be released in the UK on the 18th December