I'm always delighted to hear that I'll be working with Mark on a project. Clash of the Santas is the most fully rounded story so far in the franchise and Jeff Pope has done a stunning job in creating a hilarious new adventure with all the comedy of the preceding tales.
Can you tell us about Howie and Colin's relationship in Clash of the Santas?
The story once again jeopardises Colin and Howie's friendship. The conflict is created when Howie, who is completely bah humbug about Christmas, is asked to be a Santa Claus representing England in an annual competition, and Colin, who adores Christmas, is only allowed to be his supporting Elf. There's huge rivalry, humiliation and jealousy between them and you'll see the lengths that Colin will go to in order to triumph over his friend.
How does Colin eventually become one of the Santas competing in the in the event?
There are Santas representing Jamaica, Ireland, Germany, Norway and many other countries, but there's one Santa who stands out from the rest, Rainbow Santa, whose attitude defies everything Christmas stands for. When Rainbow Santa is injured, Colin sees it as a way in to the competition, even if it means pretending to agree with the Rainbow Santa's immoral principles.
The Rainbow Santa has two little helpers, Tilda and Florian, who seem to have an agenda than just getting Colin to win the competition. What can you tell us about their involvement in the story?
Tilda and Florian want to strike a blow against the capitalism and commercialisation of Christmas by blowing up the statue of St Nicholas. The spirit of Christmas and everything that Christmas represents is going to be held hostage including Colin. It will be up to Colin and Howie not only to come to the rescue, but also to save everything that's precious about Christmas.
Did you have lots of laughs on set whilst filming?
We had an absolute hilarious time filming Clash of the Santas. Even in the more serious scenes we'd still be laughing our heads off. Like many great family films the humour operates on two levels - there's the slapstick fun and the childish antics of the Santa competition running alongside a more sophisticated humour that adults can enjoy.
How comfortable was your elf's costume?
The green tights I had to wear in the height of summer were slightly uncomfortable. They were thick and woolly. I felt sorry for Mark who was dressed head to toe in a big thick Santa's costume in the middle of summer.
What was the most memorable scene to film?
It has to be when we filmed the reindeer race, as we used horses dressed as reindeer. I had to shout "mush" and pull the reins in order to get the horse to move at the start of the race and on one take I shouted "mush", whipped the reins, and in no time at all the horse kicked back sending me flying into the air and down on the ground. Thankfully I was okay but all I could see was Mark laughing and that then set me off laughing too.
What message do you hope viewers watching Clash of the Santas will take out from the drama?
That Christmas is only magic if and when we believe it's magic. Santa is real if and when we believe Santa is real. Clash of the Santas is really about having faith in the magic and wonder of Christmas.
Are you as enthusiastic as Colin is when it comes to Christmas?
Yes I am. There are many similarities between Colin and myself and one is how enthusiastic we both are about Christmas. I believe we should all talk enthusiastically about the spirit of Christmas and appreciate how precious it is. At home we do the lights, we have a traditional Christmas dinner, the children have presents and I love getting the tree and decorating it.
Do you have a Christmas message for viewers?
Believe in the spirit of Christmas and just enjoy Christmas as seen through children's eyes, as we do in the show. Take pleasure from others, value friendships and nurture the imagination of children.