Sleigh - starring Matt Berry and Nigel Planer

Formerly successful rock band The Kindness are trying to record a Christmas song for their comeback single. It's the height of summer, tempers are fraying and obnoxious lead singer Rob and his dad Gerald, the officious Bishop, aren't helping. So, with the aid of port, cheese and swearing, it's up to long-suffering manager Martin to save the day. This short film includes a song, Everybody's Coming Home (It's Christmas!), written specially for the film by Elbow.

Co-writer and Director John Panton explains: "The Sleigh script developed after I read an old Uncut article about Slade recording Merry Xmas Everybody during the height of the summer in New York 1973. That idea of trying to create a British festive single during uncomfortably hot weather amused me, and combined, with my experience of playing in a few unsuccessful bands, informed the development of the sweary but hopefully sweet Christmas short.

"I often work with the lovely David Quantick, and bearing his music journalism background, I sent him the script. He, quite frankly, made it a whole lot more fun and festive - in particular, turning the Nigel Planer's character into a bishop from my vague 'businessman' (David: "Bishops are inherently funny").

"Matt Berry was the first choice for the role. I'm a huge fan of Matt and I thought it would be fun to cast him in a sweeter light than his characters are usually pitched. We certainly needed someone to sing, and he's a wonderfully gifted musician too.

"Nigel Planer was introduced to me by my producer Michael Knowles. He's playing an absolute bastard, and it was a joy to see Nigel and Matt bounce off each other's performances during filming (plus, somehow having the actors behind Nicholas Craig and Steven Toast seemed ace).

"I'm still bowled over by Elbow's involvement. I had directed the video Lost Worker Bee for them, so I thought I would be outrageously cheeky and ask them for a track for the film. The pressure for them of course, was that the Christmas song had to be catchy, cliched and brilliant, or the film's payoff wouldn't work. Craig Potter, the band's keyboardist and producer, was incredibly enthusiastic, even roping in a forty piece choir. The track is amazing and absolutely fulfils the brief I gave them.

"Craig asked me to play drums on the track, so I nervously went to their Manchester studio to record. I hadn't played properly for at least ten years and was absolutely terrified. Craig of course was a true gent, and while I panicked and sweated in terror in the studio behind the drum-kit, he calmly found a way to make my drumming acceptable for the track."

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Behind-the-scenes photos on Facebook

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Matt Berry Martin
Nigel Planer Bishop
Aidan Casey Rob
Joe Hancock Jeremy
Emerson Pike Will
Aaron Turner Roy
Chelsea Marie Ensemble Actor
Kerrie Seymour Ensemble Actor
Alex Eynon Ensemble Actor
Jack Eynon Ensemble Actor
John Panton Writer
David Quantick Writer
John Panton Director
Mike Knowles Producer
John Panton Producer
Craig Potter Executive Producer
Matt Tiller Executive Producer
David Quantick Executive Producer
John Panton Editor
Jo Panton Editor

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