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In praise of - yoda.

For most Star Wars fans under four feet tall – and a good many who long ago passed that mark – the coolest character in George Lucas's sprawling fictional universe is Yoda, the wise, diminutive, centuries-old Jedi Master who speaks in mangled English and teaches Luke Skywalker a thing or two about parking his X-wing fighter.

Yoda also has green skin, scant hair, wears a threadbare tunic and uses a walking stick. Still, as he himself famously quipped: "When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not". How true.

The Star Wars franchise is now well into its thirties and it's looking as good as Yoda clearly thinks he does. There are three more films due for delivery between 2015 and 2021 with the first one, Episode VII, to be directed by Lost co-creator JJ Abrams. That sound you hear, by the way, is the Disney tills shaking with excitement: the Mouse House owns the rights to Star Wars, having bought George Lucas's company for $4 billion last year.

Now comes news that there will also be a series of spin-off films dedicated to the back stories of some of the favourite characters. Speaking ahead of the latest financial results to be posted by Disney, CEO Bob Iger addressed the "speculation" about these "stand-alone films" and admitted "there are going to be a few other films released". Influential online critic Harry Knowles was a little briefer on his website Ain't It Cool News. "Word is Yoda is first," he wrote.

For Star Wars fans old and new, above four feet tall and below, this is cool news indeed. Now we'll see how Yoda acquired his fearsome lightsaber skills, what exactly he did in the Clone Wars and who on earth – or on Tattooine, Hoth or Naboo – taught him to speak English like that.

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