Santa Claus — also known as Father Christmas, or Jeff (TV: A Christmas Carol, COMIC: Holiday Special) — was a legendary figure who distributed presents to good children on Christmas morning under their trees. He played an important part in the Christmas tradition on the planet Earth. While most sources corrobated that Santa was indeed a real figure, there were some accounts that disputed this and claimed that he was a fictional entity.
Much more information from Iris Wildthyme and the Claws of Santa needs to be added.
Santa maintained a workshop where he created toys. It used to be located at the North Pole, but due to the aeroplanes which began flying over it in the 20th century it became very noisy, so he moved it to the Christmas-land. (COMIC: A Christmas Story) In order to deliver presents to all children in a single night, Santa used time loops and clones of himself. (PROSE: The Man Who (Nearly) Killed Christmas)
History as a myth
According to accounts where Santa Claus were merely a fictional character, this myth was believed to have been based on Saint Nicholas of Myra, a 4th century bishop from Asia Minor. (AUDIO: Better Watch Out, Fairytale of Salzburg)
Father Christèmas of Faction Paradox claimed that the jolly character of Father Christmas was created by Ben Jonson in the early 17th century to mock Christèmas following a failed deal between the two. The Ministry of Insinuation were displeased that the idea of Father Christmas went viral. (PROSE: Weapons Grade Snake Oil)
Whether or not he was real, most adult human beings believed him to be fictitious. (AUDIO: Death in Blackpool) For instance, Clara Oswald ceased believing in him at age nine, dismissing him as a "fairy tale". (TV: Last Christmas) According to one account, the reason most people believed him to be a myth was that Torchwood One was intentionally keeping the truth of his existence secret. (PROSE: Trace Memory)
When confronting the Sixth Doctor while in his final incarnation, Astrolabus, an exiled Time Lord cartographer and astrologer who claimed to be "legend on a dozen worlds", said that Santa Claus had been one of the names given to him over the years, as well as El Diablo, Robin Hood and Zorro. (COMIC: Voyager)
The Second Doctor warned Santa of a future where the toy workshop spanned over two thousand worlds and the fabric of space was being torn by his time looping. A solution was found involving a fleet of robot Santas and newly calculated, more stable wormholes. (PROSE: The Man Who (Nearly) Killed Christmas)
The Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith travelled to New York City in 1822, where they met Saint Nicholas. Clement C. Moore watched them from his window, and then sat down to write Twas the Night Before Christmas. (PROSE: A Visit from Saint Nicholas)
Santa Claus visited Paul Magrs and his Mam in their home on Christmas 1979, to deliver presents, filling the living room. Paul knew that his Mam had done the hard work buying the presents, though he also started to doubt the existance of Santa when he saw a pile of presents ontop of his Mam's wardrobe. (PROSE: Party Like it's 1979) Santa also visited Paul, Jeremy, Panda, and Fester's home on Christmas Eve night, 2006, delivering presents. The next morning, Paul and Fester woke up early and went into the living room, and upon seeing the presents, Fester was skeptical that Santa had visited. This disbelief was dispelled when Fester caught a mouse, and he exclaimed that, in gratitude, he did believe in Santa. (PROSE: The Story of Fester Cat)
A shared-dream version of Santa Claus and his elves Ian and the Wolf, as well as his flying reindeer, appeared in a collective dream shared by the Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald, Shona McCullough, Ashley Carter, Albert Smithe and Rona Bellows, who were being fed on by dream crabs. (TV: Last Christmas) He first appeared to the Doctor when he entered his TARDIS, and told him that Clara was not happy with their recent separation. (TV: Death in Heaven) According to the Doctor, Father Christmas represented their subconscious minds trying to break free of the induced dream state which was killing them. He appeared to know things about them, like that Shona liked My Little Pony, and also claimed to have watched over and taken care of everyone sharing the dream "from Christmas to Christmas". The group of six rode on Santa's sleigh over London as they one by one woke up again into the real world. He later appeared again to the Doctor, causing him to realise he was still in a dream and to wake up for real — although as the Doctor and Clara Oswald reunited in the real world and resumed their adventures together, a tangerine, one of Santa's calling card gifts, was seen on her windowsill. (TV: Last Christmas)
In Newton Aycliffe, the council employed a "Council Van Santa" to go around the streets and spread festivities. There were ETAs printed in the local newspaper. While the older kids threw snowballs at "Santa"'s van, everybody else apprecated "Santa". (PROSE: Party Like it's 1979)
On 24 December 2008, the Eighth Doctor, Lucie Miller and Haygoth ran into a drunken man whose job was to impersonate Santa Claus. However, he was fired for being "too old". (AUDIO: Death in Blackpool)
Danny Pink dressed as Santa Claus on Christmas Day in a dream crab-induced dream Clara Oswald was in. When she asked what day it was, he briefly joked that it was Easter and that he was dressed up as "Father Easter". Danny was in reality dead at this point in her timeline. (TV: Last Christmas)
Bayldon Copper, who had a phony Earthonomics degree from Mrs Golightly's Happy Travelling University and Dry Cleaners on the planet Sto, incorrectly told the passengers of the Titanic that Earth worshipped a god named "Santa" and his wife Mary. Santa was described as a beast with fearsome claws (Santa Claus). (TV: Voyage of the Damned)
When the Eleventh Doctor jumped down a chimney in the 44th century, he told a child that the "fat fella" would be down later. He showed the child a picture of himself, Santa and Albert Einstein at Frank Sinatra's hunting lodge as proof, adding that he knew Santa as "Jeff". (TV: A Christmas Carol)
When a young Grant asked his mother if the "old guy" at his bedroom window could come inside, she, thinking Grant was referring to Santa Claus, told him that the man was expected and that he could come in. When the Doctor realised this, he chuckled, "Ho ho ho ho" and wished Grant a merry Christmas. (TV: The Return of Doctor Mysterio)
While trapped in the Time Vortex, the Master managed to make contact with Earth at Christmas-time, and he offered to bring whoever set him free "gifts that [they] never dreamed, things [they] never even knew [they] wanted", like Santa Claus. (WC: The Master wants to be your Santa Claus)
Behind the scenes
- Santa Claus and Father Christmas have different origins and are technically once considered different individuals. However, as in modern day, the character portrayed by Nick Frost in the television stories Death in Heaven and Last Christmas is identified in the closing credits as Santa Claus, and referred to in dialogue in Last Christmas with both names. A Christmas Carol also has the Eleventh Doctor describe the "fat fella" with both names.
- In A Christmas Carol, the Eleventh Doctor shows a boy a photograph of himself at Frank Sinatra's hunting lodge in 1952 with Santa Claus and Albert Einstein. There is also a third individual who appears to be Marilyn Monroe but is not named by the Doctor. (The Doctor later takes Kazran to Sintra's lodge in 1952, where he accidentally proposes to Monroe.) Curiously, the Doctor refers to Einstein as "the blonde". The Doctor seeming to conflate the two may be a reference to the famous optical illusion of Einstein and Monroe.
- In An Adventure in Space and Time, Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine) describes the First Doctor as "C. S. Lewis meets H. G. Wells meets Father Christmas".
- According to writer Steven Moffat, "Everything except the very last scene" of Last Christmas "is a dream" and "[t]he tangerine represents the fact that Santa Claus obviously stage-managed the whole thing to get the [Twelfth] Doctor and Clara back together."
Portrayals in other media
Frank Welker voiced Santa on four occasions, in the television specials A Chipmunk Christmas (1981), A Wish For Wings That Work (1991), and Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas (1992), and in the 2002 Evil Con Carne episode, Christmas Con Carne. He also voiced a department store Santa in the 1995 Freakazoid! episode In Arms Way.
Jim Broadbent has played Santa in film twice: voice only in the 2011 animated film Arthur Christmas (which also featured Bill Nighy as "Grand-Santa") and on screen in the 2014 film Get Santa (also featuring Jodie Whittaker, Warwick Davis, Nonso Anozie, Perry Benson, and Matt King). He also portrayed him in Aldi's 2020 Christmas advert.
Brian Blessed has played Santa at least three times: The Amazing World of Gumball episode "Christmas" (2012; voice only), Sooty episode "Pranks and Presents" (2013), and Danger Mouse (starring Alexander Armstrong) episode "The Snowman Cometh" (2015; voice only).
Matt Lucas voiced him in the 2018 animated special Aliens Love Underpants And... Panta Claus.
- Stewart, Malcolm (25 December 2014). 'Doctor Who' writer Moffat confirms what was real in "Last Christmas". CultBox. Retrieved on 14 January 2015.