Sunday, July 25, 2021

Christmas in July 2021: Father Christmas (1991)

 

Father Christmas (1991)

 

Happy Christmas in July! It's Day #25 of the Christmas in July party. All month long I'll be celebrating Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a FUN IN THE SUN attitude. Expect a run of Christmas in July stories, tropical yuletides, and island themes. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released later this year). 

Today's Christmas in July discussion is on the 1991 animated TV special Father Christmas. Here we see what Santa does all year long--including go on a summer vacation!

 

 

You may already be familiar with the more popular and well known animated TV special The Snowman, also based on a Raymond Briggs book.

 

Father Christmas is a British-made, half-hour animated story offering an amusing look at the life of Santa Claus and his activities the other days of the year when he’s not delivering toys. A fabulous TV special based on two Raymond Briggs books, "Father Christmas" and "Father Christmas Goes on Holiday."

The story begins when Father Christmas finishes his annual toy delivery to return to his very ordinary home. Like most people, he drinks tea and attends to domestic activities, even planning a vegetable garden. Santa leaves for an extended holiday, overindulging in food while on vacation in France.  He gets drunk in Scotland and goes to Las Vegas to enjoy the sun, gambling and the showgirls. He’s even human enough to steal the hotel’s towels!

 

Father Christmas enjoying the pool.
 


Returning home after a long summer break, he begins answering the letters he’s received, picking up his red suit from the cleaners and organizing his Christmas Eve journey. On that magical night delivering toys, he interacts with the flying snowmen at the North Pole in an overlapping sequence from the other Briggs’ Christmas TV special The Snowman.  Father Christmas also makes one last minute delivery to two special young princes in London.

This is a very human depiction of Santa, a side of the myth rarely explored. Father Christmas here is very working-class, subject to the same mortal experiences such as overeating, excessive drinking and cantankerousness as the rest of us. This view of the St. Nick leaves out Mrs. Claus, the elves and his home in the North Pole in exchange for a delightful, touching new look at the familiar character.

Father Christmas sings the tune "Merry Bloomin’ Christmas" as he makes his annual rounds on Christmas Eve. Actor Mel Smith provides the voice to Father Christmas.


 

 

Raymond Brigg's illustrated books have also inspired the animated TV specials The Snowman from 1982, 1998’s The Bear, and 2012’s The Snowman and the Snowdog.

Our Christmas in July party discussions will continue all month long. Got another favorite summer vacation Christmas program? There's more to come. Feel free to leave comments down below.

 

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for a 2021 release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

 

 

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