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Christmas has come early in the studio! We're lucky enough to have Doc McStuffins Creator/Executive Producer, Chris Nee, here this week, as we gear up for the BAFTAS this weekend.

To celebrate we decided to watch the Christmas special as a team - and invited Chris to describe the making of the episode.

As an international production, we’re pretty spread out. We have production in Dublin, final animation in Singapore, the underscore and effects are in New York City, and the writers, composers and voice actors are in LA. (I’m based in LA, and get to Dublin as often as I can.)

It’s hard being so far from everyone, and it’s hard to work on animation without the physical. So often, you want to get up and demonstrate just how that prat fall should look, or what a dump-truck’s face might look like after he accidentally dumps his blocks on a stuffed animals tail. But, being together a few times a year, when I come to Dublin, helps us with the shorthand.

Doc has taken me to so many places I couldn’t have imagined. I’ve met doctors who were inspired by Doc, and who in turn inspire me. I’ve watched thousands of people line up outside the Doc Mobile, waiting for their chance to meet Doc McStuffins and do a check-up of their own. And I’ve seen our creation find her place inside the Disneyland theme parks (how cool is that?!)

Dom McStuffins on stage in Disney Junior Live!Dom McStuffins on stage in Disney Junior Live!

But the most fun places to go are the ones the show takes me to in my head. And the Christmas special was no exception.

I like Christmas as much as the next person, but I’m not exactly sure how I became the go-to Christmas special writer.... dare I say, a Christmas Special-specialist! I've written a heap of them - including the first ‘Wonder Pets’ Christmas special and the Hugglemonsters Christmas special. How would I tackle the Doc McStuffins’ Christmas special? What more could I have to say on the subject?

It turns out plenty!

I’ve never had quite so much fun working on an episode as I did writing, “A Very McStuffins Christmas.”  We all grew up having a special place in our hearts for our favourite holiday specials, and I wanted to make sure Doc’s could stand with the rest of them.

As soon as we started to think about it, we knew Doc had to go to the North Pole and meet the great toy man himself, Santa Claus. I could imagine that he’s been watching her for all these years, and would be just as happy to meet her as she is to meet him.

Various Santa sketches by 2D illustrator Derek HoranVarious Santa sketches by 2D illustrator Derek Horan

I wrote an ambitious episode with lots of new characters, and entirely new sets. If you’re going to do Santa’s Workshop, it has to be spectacular. And ours is. The team worked night and day to bring this magical world to life. What they’ve done with this episode is just stunning. I know how much blood, sweat and tears (not really, but animation is no place for subtlety) went into the episode, but it totally paid off. We wanted to have a Christmas special that could hold a place in people’s hearts for a good, long time.

Santa's Workshop Toy Building RoomSanta's Workshop Toy Building Room

Toy Building Room Production DesignToy Building Room Production Design

Our composers, Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley, wrote songs that we think can live in the Christmas canon for years to come.

And we cast the perfect voices. How has no one asked Tony Hale to be an elf before? (Honestly, I’m not sure. But we lucked out.) Tony (and his daughter) are fans of the show, so he signed up right away. From there we decided to go with the Arrested Development theme by asking Jeffrey Tambour. What a perfect Santa! He can ‘ho ho ho’ with the best of them! And Steve Blum, who usually plays big scary action guys, had a blast showing off his sense of humor and singing chops as Commander Crush.

We’re a little over a week from ‘A Very McStuffins Christmas’ hitting the airwaves. I know Doc has been the best Christmas present I could ask for. I hope you get everything on your wish list too.

Happy Holiday!

 

'A Very McStuffins Christmas' will be airing on Disney Junior, December 1st at 6pm! Don't miss it!

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