So who has never seen one of the many versions of Miracle on 34th Street there have been in the past 50 years? The first, made in 1947, is probably the best, though it has some rather dated notions about romance and a leading man called Mr Gailey. Nobody would dare use a name like that now. The basic plot has been retained through two tv movies, a play and stage musical and the lavish 1994 John Hughes blockbuster with Richard Attenborough in the leading role.
Essentially it is a story about whether Santa Claus really exists. In the UK, he is usually called Father Christmas, but the principle is the same.
I switched the action to Howell’s department store on St. Mary’s street. It is the obvious Cardiff equivalent of Maceys in New York. I am winging it a bit about how they organise their Christmas grotto and possibly running the risk of being sued for my portrayal of their drunken Father Christmas and the deputy manager.
The scene in which Sergeant Andy refuses to arrest either Father Christmas in front of the children actually owes itself to another Christmas reference. In Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel Hogfather, the usually quite dense Corporal Hobbs of the Nightwatch tells the manager of the Ankh Morpork equivalent of Maceys that arresting the Hogfather in front of all the children, on Hogswatch Night wouldn’t look good. Andy, another officer not usually noted for his original thought, also thinks the same thing.
In the original 34th Street, Santa talks to a Dutch refugee child in Dutch. In the 1994 version, he does sign language to a deaf child. In St. Mary’s Street in 2010, Polish immigrants are plausible enough, making the scene a homage to the original.
And here we depart from any version of that film. We touch, slightly, on one of the themes of the Tim Allen trilogy The Santa Clause, which deals in part with what adults believe about Christmas. And we see the Torchwood team coming to terms with the idea that the man they come to call Nicholas might be the real deal. It is summed up, of course, in Beth’s comment.
Well, can anyone argue with that? I don’t think so.
There are lots of different names for Father Christmas around the world. I chose a few of them to get the point across.
Landing a full sleigh and reindeer in Roald Dahl Plas, with its own snow, just seemed like the best way to end this story. It isn’t the usual sort of Torchwood story, but the last two years the Christmas stories have been quite dramatic. I thought something light and fun might be in order.