Paparazzi pictures from Lapland have shown that Santa Claus is balder than a politician's lie.
The spirit of Christmas was spotted pottering in his garden prior to his busiest day of the year, tending his marigolds wearing a Dolci and Gabana red suit with ermine trim. What he did not have was any hair on his head at all, apart from eyebrows.
Diligent reporting turned up that Nicolas (as he is called) buys his grey mane from Debenhams, and pops in once a year, around June, to pick up the curly locks and beard for the coming festive season.
"I'd always suspected the beard was a fake," said Adam Eneve, a six year old brat emerging from a grotto in Oldham town centre, on discovering the news. "I could see the wire hooking it onto his ears."
Father Christmas was unavailable for comment, but a close friend who prefers to be called Mary has come forward to defend the giver of presents.
"The beard and hair is a trademark, you know," said Mary. "When he started going bald in the early seventies he was very upset. His friend, Rudolf, suggested faking it, and that's what he did, starting with a toupee, but more recently moving onto a full on wig with beard attachment. At first he didn't need to beard, but after I accidentally bought him a super-powered ear and nose hair trimmer from Bettaware that sucked all the hair of his chin and top lip, he had to get the bushy grey beard whilst buying his wig."
One advantage that Santa has found with the new shiny dome is that he can now travel incognito while purchasing next year's presents in the January sales. "He hasn't been mobbed in years," Mary confided. "And he's loving it! I never really liked the beard anyway: it tickled."