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Comic Book / Father Christmas

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"Happy Blooming Christmas to you too!"

A 1973 graphic novel by Raymond Briggs. This is a very different version of Father Christmas or Santa. He doesn't live in the North Pole with Mrs. Claus, his elves and his eight tiny reindeer; instead he lives in a London townhouse with two reindeer and his cat and dog. Far from being jolly, he's grumpy and treats his job, well like a job like any other bloke. The book covers his nightly run and the labor it takes from getting his sled ready, having to deal with the cold and the snow, and tight chimneys. His final delivery on the night is none other than to Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. As he finishes he runs into a friendly milkman who looks remarkably similar to Briggs' father.

Briggs wrote a sequel in 1975 called Father Christmas Goes on Holiday where he goes on holiday. He converts his sled into a caravan and after misadventures in camping grounds in France and Scotland, he checks into a Las Vegas Casino resort for a very long stay, until he's reminded to get back to work by a child guest.

Both books were combined into a short film with Mel Smith as the voice of Father Christmas in 1991 by the same company that made The Snowman as a companion piece to the latter film; both James and the Snowman make a cameo in the film as well.


  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: Father Christmas has a nightmare about a vomiting cow and sentient kidneys after eating an incredibly high-fat meal on his first night in France.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film combines the two books so they both happen in the same year. The events of Father Christmas Goes on Holiday come first and his Christmas run comes after.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: In the animated adaptation, apart from the snowmen, there's a dancing flower with sunglasses seen early on. Then there's the marching veal kidneys in the Acid Reflux Nightmare.
  • Bad Santa: Well, not really bad, but less squeaky-clean and relentlessly jolly than most portrayals. Here, Father Christmas is more of a gruff and curmudgeonly old man with a sarcastic streak and vices like gambling, drinking and smoking, but he's still very good-hearted deep down and truly loves his job and making children happy.
    Father Christmas: (reading from a pile of Christmas Lists) A bloomin' pony? How does she think I'll get that on a sledge? (with a smile) Ah, I'll think of something.
  • Bland-Name Product: Father Christmas uses an "UXO" tin — parodying OXO, a UK brand specializing in things like stock cubes and gravy sold in small square tins — for his snack box during his Christmas run.
  • Big Eater: A little too much. See Acid Reflux Nightmare above.
  • Bowdlerisation: When the film was released in America, Father Christmas was given a new voice actor and made less grumpy and more jolly (and posh) to better fit American sensibilites and family audiences. Also, all traces of the word "bloomin'" were removed.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Father Christmas during the Framing Device. He also does this in The Snowman's 20th anniversary opening.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When Father Christmas picks up his suit from the dry cleaners', the cashier asks him if he's going to a fancy dress party. During his deliveries, he accidentally stumbles into a fancy dress party, where the host comments to her friend "not awfully original"; there are a couple of people dressed as Father Christmas behind her, with obviously fake beards.
    • At the end of the short film when Father Christmas is having a bath, he's seen drying himself with a towel that has Nero's Palace's logo on it... he stole the towel from the hotel!
  • Character Catchphrase: Father Christmas injects the word "bloomin'" into every other sentence.
  • Clothes for Christmas Cringe: Santa Claus himself gets presents from his aunt and cousin, consisting of a tie and socks respectively. He hates both of them, and the only present he likes is some booze from his uncle.
  • Dirty Old Man: At one point Father Christmas has a dream where he's back at the Las Vegas hotel swimming pool being surrounded by curvy young ladies in bikinis, and a montage from Las Vegas shows him drunkenly dancing with a line of chorus girls.
  • Drunken Montage: A rather light-hearted one ensues when Santa takes refuge from the Scottish rain in a friendly local pub and has a merry time getting progressively more squiffy with a bagpiping Scotsman until he staggers back to his sleigh-turned-camper. He's very, very hungover the next morning.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Briggs' father appears in both the comic and film as a milkman, whom Father Christmas meets after completing his last delivery to Buckingham Palace. He later starred in his own graphic novel and movie, Ethel & Ernest.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Notably averted when he's abroad, but when delivering presents, he flies past a number of landmarks in London, including the BT Tower (which he nearly crashes into), the Houses of Parliament and its Clock Tower (Big Ben), Nelson's Column and Pall Mall on approach to Buckingham Palace, as well as Beachy Head Lighthouse in East Sussex.
  • Expy Coexistence: Briggs' father, Ernest makes a background cameo in Father Christmas (his milk float even has Briggs' initials on it). There's another cameo from Jim and Hilda Bloggs from When the Wind Blows, whom Briggs based on his parents; they can be seen in the Scottish pub Father Christmas goes to.
  • Fictional Counterpart: When Father Christmas goes to Las Vegas, he stays at Nero's Palace Hotel and Casino.
  • Foreign Queasine: Averted, then played straight, then averted again: Father Christmas orders everything on the menu when he's in France, even though everything is "a la creme" — served with a cream sauce, or otherwise containing cream (such as his coffee). It's all delicious, but he gets terrible indigestion due to eating and drinking far too much. Later on, in Scotland (in the book at least), he cheerfully tucks into a plate of haggis.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: The animated short has Father Christmas pick up his outfit from a dry-cleaners, and the clerk asks if he's going to a costume party. He gruffly tells her "I should be so bloomin' lucky!" While on the following delivery run, he accidentally walks into a costume party. The mother helpfully points him towards her son's room.
  • Framing Device: The cartoon starts and ends with Father Christmas Breaking the Fourth Wall as he tells the audience about his holiday and job.
  • French Cuisine Is Haughty: When Father Christmas is on holiday in France, he is indignant that they don't have chips or bottled table sauces that he can put on his food; he nonetheless makes the best of it. Later on (in the book), he goes to a cafĂ© for breakfast and is disgusted when all they'll give him is a croissant and a cup of coffee.
  • Friend to All Children: The reason why despite all the complaining Father Christmas has about his job, he does it every year; he loves the kids.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: In the British version, Father Christmas' favorite present is a bottle of booze, in the American dub it's cologne.
  • Good is Not Nice: Father Christmas isn't always the most polite, approachable chap, but there's no question heart his heart is ultimately in the right place.
  • Goshdang It To Heck: Father Christmas frequently says "blooming" which is a minced oath version of "bloody".
  • Grumpy Old Man: Father Christmas, in stark and humorous contrast to most depictions of the character.
  • High-Class Glass: When Father Christmas visits a casino in Las Vegas in Father Christmas Goes on Holiday, he completes his image as a high roller by sporting a monocle. Ironically, it's just a cheap plastic toy he found in a Christmas cracker the year before, but it does suit him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Father Christmas may act like a gruff, snappish old crank at the best of times, but he loves what his job means for the world's children.
  • Leaving Food for Santa: Father Christmas has Father Christmas getting rather tipsy on all the sherry that the children leave out for him; in Britain, it's traditional to give Santa a mince pie and a sherry (or some other alcoholic beverage, such as whisky, brandy or beer) to keep him going, and a carrot for his reindeer. Averted in the animated adaptation: he leaves the treats untouched, thinking about his weight.
  • Ludicrous Gift Request: In the animated adaptation, Father Christmas is seen looking at his letters and at one point asks himself, "A bloomin' pony?! How does she think I'm gonna get that on the sledge?!".
  • Mistaken for Santa: When Father Christmas collects his Santa suit from the dry cleaner's on Christmas Eve, the lady comments, "Off to a fancy dress party then, sir?". Father Christmas growls, "I should be so bloomin' lucky!", as he contemplates the night's work. This is played with in the sequel Father Christmas Goes on Holiday, when he tries not to be recognised on his travels, but three times somebody wonders if he is Santa Claus, forcing him to make a quick exit.
  • Oh, Crap!: Father Christmas has this reaction several times to various things happening to him, but has his biggest ones when he goes swimming in a (freezing cold) Scottish Loch and gets chased by a shark, and when he realizes he still has to make a delivery for Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
  • Potty Emergency: As part of his overindulgence in France, Father Christmas ends up dashing to the gents every five minutes until sunrise.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: A very rare example in the work of Raymond Briggs is the Nero's Palace car park attendant, who doesn't seem to see anything weird in the fact that an old guy with a big white beard left him a bunch of reindeer to look after. Father Christmas tips him lavishly, thanks him and wishes him the "best of luck". Well, it is Vegas...
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Father Christmas' dog and cat could count as this. There's also a seal that Father Christmas greets in the Scottish loch not long after his arrival there.
  • Same Language Dub: When it was released in America, Mel Smith was dubbed over by LA actor William Dennis Hunt to be more posh and jolly and more family-friendly.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The Snowman is alive and well in the animated short via his and James' cameo. It's heavily implied that James just rebuilt him the year after, given that he's already wearing the snowman scarf he was given and Father Christmas comments on them meeting again like the previous year.
  • There Was a Door: Instead of trying the door, Father Christmas delivers presents to a caravan by using a tin opener to cut a hole through the roof!
  • Working-Class Hero: Briggs states that he saw parallels between Father Christmas and his father who was a milkman; and yes, he is the milkman who Father Christmas meets near the end of his run. Father Christmas himself counts as well; living in a small terraced house in England with his pets and two reindeer, tending to his vegetable garden in his spare time, and treating his work just like any other job.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: When Father Christmas accidentally stumbles into a costume party, the host (dressed as a cat) comments to her friend that his look is "not awfully original"... when are a couple of other partygoers behind her at that moment, dressed as such and with obviously fake beards.

So from me, and my reindeer,
we'll see you all, next year.
For Another Blooming... CHRISTMAS! HA HA HA!
Merry blooming Christmas!