Benedict Cumberbatch by Sam via Flickr

Holly Chapman reports on Letters Live, whose Christmas event saw Benedict Cumberbatch lead the bill with his letter to Santa.

Most of us are familiar with the Christmas ritual growing up: write your letter to Santa, leave the milk and cookies or mince pies out – not forgetting the carrots for the reindeer. Now Benedict Cumberbatch leads as celebrities reveal their letters to Saint Nick for the Christmas Letters Live event.

Letters Live, which first launched in December 2013, is a live celebration of the enduring power of literary correspondence. It features an ensemble of great performers, who read remarkable letters written over the centuries and from around the world. To mark National Letter Writing Day, Cumberbatch heads performers by reading his letter to Father Christmas.

In his letter to Santa, Cumberbatch makes the wish that it is time “for children to be children.” Rather than making materialistic demands, he asks that Father Christmas shield children from the worries of the world.

As Cumberbatch writes: “This is what I’d like to ask you to help with. A little more time for children to be children. Stretch the moment of magic and playfulness.

Distract them 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, of 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.”

82/365 Dear Santa by martinak15 via flickr

Growing up, I was a child able to be a child, especially at Christmas, which was often a joyous occasion with family. And so it should continue to be by allowing other children to not have to face adult responsibility. So, the more we shield children from the harsh realities this Christmas, the better.

Singer Annie Lennox also asks Santa Claus for some compassion and peace this Christmas. As she writes: “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.”

Comedian Russell Brand poses some rather practical questions to Santa: “I’ve got some obvious questions around physics (rotund tum vs narrow chimney, travel time etc) and some ideological questions about the net human gain from a jolly celestial benefactor granting consumer goods.”

The author of Life of Pi, Yann Martel requested that Father Christmas bring an extra day of cheer in the summer period.

Breaking gender stereotypes, actress Thandie Newton has addressed her letter to Mrs Claus, in the hope that she comes this year rather than her jolly other half. As she writes: “My request is that you let Mrs. Claus come this year. Yes, your silent partner.

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.”

The theme of breaking away from requesting material possessions and appreciating childhood and joy has made this a must see event. If you wish to see Letter’s Live for yourself, the first 2016 event will be held in March at Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden.

With all that said there is only one this left to say. Santa, Benedict is still waiting on his light sabre.

Find out more about Letters Live and what they do by clicking here.