EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Father Christmas talks sleigh problems, mince pies and the latest elf gossip

Santa and Amelia Lily with kids in his grotto

Santa and Amelia Lily with kids in his grotto - Credit: Archant

With just a few days left until Christmas, everyone is busy buying presents, putting up the decorations and getting the turkey ready to roast.

But one man is still working hard towards the most important day of his year – Father Christmas.

Lizzie Dearden caught up with him for a few minutes between seeing children in his Romford grotto.

Hello Father Christmas, thank you for seeing us. You must be very busy.

Yes there’s not long to go now. And lots of children have been coming to see me this year.

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You must have a lot of homes to visit. How do you get in?

I come down the chimney. I have magical fairy dust that I sprinkle on myself and woosh down. I don’t even get soot on me. If there isn’t a chimney, I use my skeleton key that can open any door, anywhere in the world. I keep it on a string around my neck here.

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Wow, that key is glowing! Is that a special watch too?

Yes, it tells Santa time. It’s the same time zone for me wherever I am in the world and overrides all others. That lets me deliver all the presents before Christmas morning.

There must be so many to fit in just the one sleigh.

Not many people know this but my sleigh is like a Tardis. Children who watch Doctor Who will understand. I can fit all the presents in the world inside it. The reindeer only fly for one day a year, on Christmas Eve. They train all year to do the job because it’s so important.

But how can they fly with all the presents in the world?

Well, last year because children wished for so many more presents than they used to, the elves designed a new sleigh. The old one was getting battered and it was so large that the reindeer were having problems taking off with it. So the technical elves designed an engine to go underneath it and give them that extra push.

I bet that needs a lot of petrol to keep going...

Ho, ho, ho, no it doesn’t. I’ve never been able to eat all the mince pies children leave out for me – there’s just too many – so they go into the engine and power the sleigh. A little elf called Ernie comes with me to load it up.

I thought the elves made presents.

They do but they all have different specialities. There’s electronics elves, and bike-building elves... elves for all the different presents. But Santa doesn’t deal with money so they get paid with Smarties. They are quite mischievous though – they like gambling.

Oh dear, that doesn’t sound like it helps make the toys.

No, there’s one elf who is particularly bad. He’s called Felty and I keep him here with me at all times so I can keep an eye on him. He’s very small but their size depends on the job – jewellery and watch elves are very small because it makes doing the intricate bits easier.

Do the elves live in Lapland with you?

The factory is in Lapland but I’m only there in the run-up to Christmas. The rest of the year I live at the North Pole with Mrs Claus, except when I go on holiday to the Bahamas. Christmas is so tiring that afterwards I sleep for two weeks at least. Then there’s a lot of work to be done so we can start production in June.

Is Christmas your favourite time of the year?

My favourite day is Boxing Day because then I know everyone is happy at home with their presents and it’s all gone well. If everybody is enjoying Christmas and they’re happy, I’m happy.

You can find Father Christmas at the Romford Shopping Hall tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday, between 10am and 4pm.

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