WHEN Johnny Vegas was asked to direct a one-off Christmas special there was only one place he wanted it filmed – St Helens.
Johnny handpicked locations across his hometown for the film and even roped in youngsters from local schools to appear as extras.
The end result, I was a Teenage Santa, will be broadcast on Friday night on Sky One. And Johnny admits bringing the semi-autobiographical tale to the small screen was a huge challenge for the notoriously carefree comedian.
He said: “I’ve never directed before, and it’s such a big job.
“I’m not very good with giving immediate answers and now, suddenly, everyone needs that from me.
“It’s nice to be involved from the beginning right through to the end, to know that you’ve had a say in everything.
“Directing has been an amazing experience and I’m really grateful for the opportunity.” I was a Teenage Santa is Johnny’s contribution to Sky One’s Little Crackers season of festive films.
Shot mainly at St Teresa’s parish hall in Devon Street, it features youngsters from St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School, Sutton High, Cowley Language College and Rainhill High.
It focuses on 13-year-old Johnny who is asked to step in for his dad to play Father Christmas as a church Christmas fete, and is based on real events from his childhood.
“The fact is that I was made to Father Christmas because my dad didn’t make it to the church hall,” said Johnny, who was raised in Thatto Heath and now splits his time between London and St Helens.
“Beyond that, everything, like the people running the church being a bit crooked, is fictional.
“I was thinking of doing something completely fictional but kept coming back to this story of when I was 13 and was asked to be Father Christmas.
“Unfortunately, I was big enough to play him.
“Christmas is a genuinely a very special time for me, so I wanted to do a story with more of a message in it.”
l I Was A Teenage Santa is on Sky One on Friday, December 23 at 9pm.