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Christmas on TV ONE

Christmas 2009 on TV ONE

Clash of the Santas

Robson Green and Mark Benton return as the endlessly bickering best mates Colin and Howie (Christmas Lights, Northern Lights and City Lights) in Clash Of The Santas).

The new Christmas tale full of comedy action, set to rekindle everyones belief in the power of Santa, sees Colin (Green, Extreme Fishing With Robson Green) and Howie (Benton, The Street) hot-foot over to Lithuania to participate in a Santa convention.

Colin loves Christmas, it's his favourite time of the year. He loves everything about it - the food, the tele, the presents - everything. But most of all he loves Santa. In particular, he loves being Santa at his children's school. Howard hates Santa, he thinks it's all a waste of time - and given that his marriage has broken down, and he won't get to see his four-year-old daughter on Christmas morning, the whole idea of Christmas just makes him feel sad and lonely - and seeing Santa just rubs salt in the wound.
But this year things are different - the school don't need Colin to be Santa, and at home, his eldest son is trying to convince the younger kids that Santa doesn't really exist. This year it's Howard who's dressing up as Santa, first as a last minute replacement in a massive shopping centre grotto, then, as a result of that success, he's asked to represent England at the World Santa Championships in Lithuania. Colin is gutted, but manages to tag along as Howie's supporter. But there's a catch: the only way Colin can go is if he dresses up as an elf: a girl elf, with bells on his shoes.

Clash Of The Santas was created by writer Jeff Pope (executive producer See No Evil: The Moors Murders, Joanne Lees: Murder In The Outback and The Last Hangman), who created the Christmas Lights, Northern Lights and City Lights series with Bob Mills (Shameless and The Last Hangman) in 2004.

Pope says the essence of the story, in true Christmas style, is about the power of believing in Santa Claus. He says as his children have aged, the magic of Santa Claus started to fade and he felt sad about that. "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."

He says he heard about an annual Santa Claus competition held 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 50 or 60 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."

However, he says the real struggle was the story within the story - answering 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."