Documentary - THE SNOWMAN™: The Film That Changed Christmas

This Christmas, Channel 4 airs THE SNOWMAN™: The Film That Changed Christmas...

Press Release

2022 marks Channel 4’s 40th Birthday. It also marks 40 years since Channel 4 first broadcast the film adaptation of the late Raymond Briggs’ timeless picture book - The Snowman™. In a huge celebration of this iconic animation this hour-long documentary explores how the little twenty-six-minute film has become so embedded in the nation’s heart at Christmas.

The film includes interviews with composer Howard Blake, and we hear about the inspiration behind the film’s specially composed score, “I had this tune in my head. I’d written it in 1970 on a beach in Cornwall, I took out manuscript paper. I wrote walking along Beach. I wrote the tune Walking in the Air, not the words, just the tune. And I thought, that’s marvellous.”

There are also interviews with Hilary Audus and Joanna Harrison who formed part of the female led animation team, they explain the creative pressures involved when making the film; Hilary Audus said, “Raymond was coming in [to see our work], we knew he had a dry sense of humour, could be quite caustic. He came in and he looked and he said, ‘these are terrific, I wish I could have done them’. It was wonderful. He was so sweet, so modest.”

Joanna Harrison added, “I've got a little granddaughter now, and she's obsessed with the snowman, obsessed with it. So, yes, we will be watching it all together as a family this year. And I feel prouder and prouder every time I watch it, because it still makes me cry. You know, it has that kind of emotional impact every time I watch it.”

We also hear from the original C4 Commissioning editor in 1982: Paul Madden; and present-day commentators such as Children’s Laureate Joseph Coehlo, Puffin author and musician Tom Fletcher (of McFly), and Puffin illustrator and animator Dapo Adeola, who all talk about the film's impact.

The documentary sets out to right a few wrongs too, such as the popular misconceptions about the show such as Aled Jones being the angelic little choirboy singing the iconic theme tune. It was actually a boy called Peter Auty who was never credited due to a last-minute rush to release the film. Aled Jones didn’t first sing those immortal four words until three years later, when the song was re-released thanks to a Snowman themed advertisement campaign by Toys R Us (and Auty’s voice had broken). It was then released as a single and reached number 5 in the charts in the UK and saw young Aled perform on Top of the Pops.

Little did the creators know that this short festive tale of friendship would become one of the most iconic emblems of Christmas in over 29 countries, spawning hit singles, a cameo from David Bowie and a host of snowy spin offs.

The Snowman: The Film That Changed Christmas airs Saturday 17th December at 5pm on Channel 4

Image - Hilary Audus & Joanna Harrison - Snowman Animators, Channel 4

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