What does Father Christmas sound like?
We all know the story: a man who makes presents for the world’s children with the help of hard-working elves. But here’s a question:What does an accent from a magical place where an old man leads a workforce of elves and reindeer actually sound like?
To find the answer we’ve had look at some of the most popular screen incarnations.
Sir Richard Attenborough
The late, great Sir Richard Attenborough in the remake of Miracle on 34th St could well be the most picture-perfect looking Father Christmas ever as the slightly eccentric but kindly Kris Kringle. A department store Santa who is secretly the real thing, Attenborough’s clear and refined (Received Pronunciation) English accent is plausibly well suited to his character’s theme: a Father Christmas a long way from home and feeling out of place in New York.
It’s difficult to picture David Huddleston as anyone other than the titular character in The Big Lebowski. However, in 1985 Huddleston starred as the decidedly American-sounding (Virginia, actually) lead character in Santa Claus the Movie. Arguably a strange film on many counts, but especially where speech was concerned: Huddleston retained his American drawl, his wife retained her English clip, and the accents from the elves differed from scene to scene.
Buzz Lightyear, but Santa: this is the easiest way to describe the main character of The Santa Clause: a disbelieving man who becomes contractually obliged to provide Christmas joy. Tim Allen also retains an American (Colorado this time) twang for his interpretation of Santa, his accent varies between gruff and kindly sounding as he evolves into the figure of Christmas we’re accustomed to.
This could be the most under-appreciated but at the same time best portrayal of Father Christmas. Mel Smith plays Father Christmas as a grumpy old man from “down south” (contrasting with the whole North Pole thing) that goes on holiday before his festive preparations start. This rougher portrayal complete with Mel Smith’s staunchly London accent is seen in situations you wouldn’t normally place him in (caravanning anyone?) is what makes this version of the character so endearing.
Each of our examples has brought something different to the role of Father Christmas and it got us wondering, who else could play him?
The Santas of Christmas yet to come?
Russell Brand –Within Russell’s stand up acts his voice changes and jumps across multiple (mostly comedic) accents, we’d love to see what that sort of energetic performance he could do as Santa!
Sir Ian McKellen – Gandalf the Red? We could totally get on board with that. Imagine the gravitas: Lancastrian with a Shakespearean flair. Plus we already know that interesting hats, beards and elves are things he is comfortable working with.
Liam Neeson – Think how much the naughty list would shrink if Santa behaved a little bit more like the guy from Taken? A softly spoken Irish Santa would be a brilliantly different take on the character.
So, where’s he from?
All things said, we aren’t entirely sure. Though as he’s a man who lives at either the North Pole or Lapland, we’re fairly certain that geographically a Virginian, Irish, Cockney or Posh accent wouldn’t be 100% accurate.
How do you think Santa should sound? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.