Behind the Idea

Executive producer and creator Jeff Pope reveals how the idea for this series came about...
Sadly, as my children get older, the magic of Santa Claus starts to fade. My youngest son, Milo, is eight now and maybe we'll have one more Christmas with him where he still believes. I felt so sad about that, and I wanted to write about that. It's a real dilemma for some parents when their child asks them if Santa Claus is real. Not for me. I haven't got time for the 'I can't lie to my child' brigade - of course he's real. He's as real as anything you want to believe in.
I heard about an annual Santa Claus competition held every year in a little skiing village in the Alps and was lucky enough to be able to visit there one year while the festival was taking place. The sheer joy of seeing fifty or sixty Santas in whichever direction you looked cannot be properly conveyed. You had to be there. It made me realise that, if I might be so bold, there is only one possible collective noun for a gathering of guys in red coats and white beards, and that is a magic of Santas.
The idea of writing a Christmas special based on a 'magic' of Santas started to take shape right there and then. On the journey home I realised that the characters of Colin Armstrong and Howie Scott are, essentially, big kids - so to transpose their bickering to an international Santa competition seemed the perfect fit. In the end it proved to be one of the most enjoyable scripts I've ever had the pleasure to write. We then had an absolute ball filming the story and the different events, with both characters straining to win. It's a Santa slugfest.
But the real struggle was the story within the story. That question again: 'Do you believe in Santa Claus?' Unfortunately there are some people who don't, who would like to spoil it for those of us that do. Howie Scott is one of them, and Colin Armstrong spends the entire film trying to persuade him to change his mind. Belief in Santa Claus goes to the very heart of Colin as, I suppose, it does in me.
Does Colin succeed? I'll let you decide.