'May the fourth be with you': the force is strong in Cleveleys as the world celebrates Star Wars Day
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Every year, fans of the cult Sci-fi franchise unite to celebrate Star Wars Day on May 4.
This particular date was crowned the official day for the films in 2011, after fans' widespread use of the phrase "may the fourth be with you."
The pun comes as a play on the classic phrase "may the force be with you," used often within the Star Wars films by characters wishing good luck ahead of precarious journeys.
In 2015, astronauts watched Star Wars on the International Space Station, and the carillon bells inside the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Canada also played Darth Vader's "The Imperial March" theme from the films.
But instead of being screened to astronauts this year, the celebrations for Star Wars Day tie in with the launch of a new animated series on Disney, "The Bad Batch."
The series follows the concluded animation "The Clone Wars," which followed a squad of genetically-modified clone troopers in the days after the fall of the Republic.
Disney Plus has also announced it will run a "fan art takeover," which will see the streaming platform's Star Wars pages transformed by original artwork for its official day until May 9.
And the force on the Fylde coast is strong for Star Wars Day, as filming for another new series continues to take place in Cleveleys
Film buffs were buzzing with excitement last week as film crews set up to begin shooting Disney’s latest instalment.
Production crews understood to be E&E Industries at Pinewood Studios – who have previously been tied to Star Wars – arrived for eight days of filming for an officially unnamed 12-part series.
Although the production company and nearby security guards have kept tight-lipped about which series is being filmed, branding on lorries arriving on Jubilee Gardens car park bore an uncanny resemblance to the easily-identifiable Star Wars title font.
The series being filmed is believed to be Andor, the prequel to hit film Rogue One, following the character Cassian Andor five years before the events of the flick.
Mexican actor Diego Luna, 41, who also starred as cartel leader Miguel Gallardo in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico, has been confirmed as reprising his role as Cassian Andor.
As fans of Star Wars will know, Andor is a soldier, pilot, and intelligence officer who joins a Rebel mission to stay plans for the Death Star, a superweapon built by the Galactic Empire – and used by Darth Vader to destroy planets.
Road closures remain in place on sections of the Prom until May 11 while filming takes place.
Cleveleys promenade has undergone a huge transformation over the last few days, particularly Cafe Cove opposite JD Gym.
The cafe, which would have usually catered to locals and visitors as they flocked to the beach over the bank holiday weekend, remains hidden behind railings and watched over by security guards after an ethereal makeover.
Photos captured by The Gazette showed the building had received new windows and doors, and its roof had been painted in unusual blue markings.
The promenade itself appeared to have been set up as some sort of marketplace, with props brought in bearing resemblance to market stalls.
Set pieces have also been installed in some of the cylindrical shelters along the promenade, and palm tree props have been seen in Jubilee Gardens car park.
Filming for the series began on Saturday, May 1, prompting photographers and drone pilots to head to the scene in a bid to capture the action.
Cleveleys was put firmly on the map in recent days as YouTube videos, social media posts and online forums saw content creators sharing their discoveries.
But despite the abundance of footage appearing online, Wyre Council urged drone pilots not to take cameras to the skies surrounding the set.
A spokesman said the site would have "drone activity detection equipment," and that the sea nearby the set would be "monitored."
"The filming company has strict Covid procedures in place, and will be taking the matter seriously as will the council," they added.
Security guards have been posted on the promenade and on Jubilee Gardens car park 24 hours a day since filming began.
Meanwhile, as officials continue with their attempts to prevent keen onlookers gaining sneak previews of anything, locals were still excited about the arrival of a multi-billion dollar industry in their town.
Anita Cottam, manager at JD Gym, hoped the Star Wars actors and crew would make use of the equipment across the road from their filming spot.
She said: "I imagine our members will all be a little surprised at the presence of a major film crew - it's not exactly the norm.
"Cleveleys isn't a location we'd usually associate with the film industry but it's only a positive thing - all good news for the town and will certainly help put us on the map.
"We are not going to be directly impacted, it will be business as usual for us but the cast and crew are more than welcome to come and make use of the gym while they're staying here and I really hope they take up the offer!"
Wyre coun Callum Baxter, a self-confessed avid Star Wans fan, added: "I think the filming is a great thing for the town, and it can only boost the tourism here after a really tough 18 months.
"If it attracts more tourists who want to come and have a nosy at the filming it will help businesses in Cleveleys as well.
"I think for such a big company to choose to come here just shows what a beautiful place it is. I love Star Wars as I'm sure a lot of other people do, so in the long run it could bring in many more visitors."