By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd
“Ho Ho Ho”. Santa was in a very good mood as Christmas approached yet again and he wandered round his busy toy workshop. That was until he saw what the Junior Elves were doing. “Why are you taking down all those Elfin Safety posters from the wall behind my workbench? “ he demanded crossly of some small and rather timid elves who jumped a few feet in the air when he boomed at them.
“it’s orders” one Junior Elf finally stuttered.” “Orders? “ said Santa sternly, “Whose orders? “ The elves looked up at him with big eyes and trepidation. “We’ve got orders from Chief Elf”, one of them managed to say as he rolled up the posters.
“But he’s the person who told me I had to have all those pesky posters up in the first place” boomed Santa getting increasingly irritated. His jolly mood had completely gone. “What on the North Pole is the Chief Elf up to now?”
“It’s for Skype” one of the Junior Elves volunteered timidly.
“Skype?” boomed Santa. “Who’s that - a new reindeer? And why does Skype mean taking down posters?”
“No. It’s not a reindeer. Skype is a free service on the internet and it means you can talk to the world on your computer“, said Chief Elf smoothly. He had suddenly appeared after gliding up unnoticed behind Santa and, not for the first time, startling him with an unexpected materialisation into a conversation.
“I am definitely going to make sure he has to wear boots that make a noise when he walks” Santa thought to himself grimly. “Those soft shoe boots with curly toes and all this gliding around silently will be the death of me!” Aloud he asked: “But why take down the posters?”
“Oh that’s so you can have a nice clear background with a sign just saying ‘Santa’s HQ’ and there’s nothing fussy behind you like posters that people will read and puzzle over instead of listening to what you’re saying in your Skype chat, “ said Chief Elf in a smugly helpful tone.
“Now come over and sit down at your workbench. There’s the laptop which you look at throughout your interview. And make sure you smile and look jolly all the time. No-one likes a serious Santa “
“Well they seem to like a Text Santa and a Secret Santa. They keep borrowing my name for all kinds of schemes, even adverts where I’m supposed to be delivering sofas or soft drinks, or whatever, so I know I’m popular ” said Santa.
“Yes, but this is the first time you’ve ever spoken to the world, so make sure you read these interview notes. I gave them to you yesterday. Have you read them yet? “ inquired Chief Elf. “Er, no” admitted Santa. “I’ve been busy sorting out production lines for traditional wooden toys, not twiddling around with computers.”
Suddenly Santa saw that Chief Elf had done something to the keyboard and things were happening on the computer screen. There were a lot of bongs and bings and then he saw himself in a little picture in the corner of the screen with a sign behind him and a small decorated Christmas tree beside him on his workbench. (“Where had that come from?”) “All part of your set dressing “ Chief Elf informed him mysteriously . “And remember - keep smiling- and don’t look down or you’ll look odd.”
The main part of the screen now had two people beaming at him and sitting on a sofa in a TV studio. They had American accents and they looked very glossy and confident. Santa wished he had combed his hair. And his beard.
He straightened his hat and brushed the cake crumbs off his beard and the front of his red Santa suit. He also noticed from his picture on screen that his suit did look a bit tight. Mrs Claus had warned him to either go on a diet or get a larger suit. Too late to do either of those things now.
He glanced at his notes. And then the questions started. How do you get round the world in a night? Is it only good children who get big presents? How many toys do you deliver each Christmas? Who is your favourite reindeer? And so on and on and on. Santa found himself remembering that Chief Elf had suggested a practice run for this kind of thing. Media training he had called it.
Santa finished the interview at last. The interviewers beamed and thanked him profusely for what they called ‘a historic world first interview’. He heard the bings and bongs again and the pictures disappeared from the screen. “Well done” said Chief Elf kindly as the Junior Elves all clapped. “You did your best” .
“Yes but I do see what you mean about the media training.“ said Santa. “I think you’d better call up those people you recommended.“
“TV News London? “ said Chief Elf. “ I’ll call them right now. You can have a practice session on Skype before your next interview with the BBC tomorrow.“
“Just one more thing “ inquired Santa anxiously. “If the broadcasters have my Skype address, won’t people now know where we are and be trying to come and visit us here?“
“No No. No need to worry about that “ said Chief Elf smugly. “ Our location is still a secret.”
How’s that?” said Santa. “Magic” said Chief Elf.
12 December 2013