Benedict Cumberbatch kicked things off with a plea on behalf of "children who need some magic in a world where the borders between innocence and responsibility, playful imagination and cold, adult obstacles are continually shrinking."
The actor also asks Father Christmas to distract children "from the realities of a world gone mad so that they can laugh with their breath rather than sob with their tears. Especially those caring for family members, or suffering illness, hunger or poverty. Especially those hiding in buildings as bombs rain down, or being handed shaking with fear or cold into a boat to escape environmental disaster or war. Please help to light up their worlds with a moment of joy and hope.
"I guess I've done exactly what I said I wouldn't …," he continued. "Asked you to help with adult problems and solve some of the greatest worries we have for our children." He finishes on a more light-hearted note, promising "extra port and mince pies" and with a PS: "Please could I have that lightsaber now?"
Other celebrities who have written to Saint Nick include singer Annie Lennox, comedian Russell Brand, Radiohead's Thom Yorke, actress Thandie Newton and Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti. Many of the requests concern the refugees of the world. Lennox writes, "Could you ensure that entire generations aren't forced to flee their homes in cities, towns and villages in war-torn countries from Syria to Nigeria because they are being continuously bombed, burned and brutalized at every turn… could you very kindly put some sanity and compassion in the hearts of the criminal profiteers of hatred, bloodshed and warfare? Thank you Santa… I truly wish you existed for grown ups."
Chakrabarti asks "whoever is reading to tweak the consciences of the powerful so as to empower the vulnerable… save our Human Rights Act."
In a nod to the gender equality movement, Newton's letter credits the woman who remains in the background, Mrs. Claus herself, saying, "I know she's the force that keeps you full of beans. You wouldn't be so jolly, energetic and kind without the presence of a woman in your life. She must be FANTASTIC. You must love her to bits. You should come too, to share the load, but it would be an enormous inspiration for all of us to feel her awesomeness!"
The 2016 Letters Live programme begins with six evening shows, a matinee and a family special in March, held at the Freemasons' Hall in London's Covent Garden. Another 25 to 30 dates in 2016 are still to be announced.
Read more of the celebrity Santa letters here.
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