Thursday, 23 December 2010

Twenty-Third Day of Advent

- December 23rd -

One of the greatest things about Christmas is, undoubtedly, the classic animated adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ timeless illustrated book The Snowman.

It’s been shown every single year at Christmastime since it’s original broadcast on Channel 4 back in 1982, and has embedded itself into the modern Christmas culture here in Great Britain. In fact, in a recent list compiled by UKTV G.O.L.D it was voted the 4th Greatest TV Christmas Moment of all time.

Christmas without The Snowman is unthinkable. For me it is the second greatest piece of festive film/TV/literature ever created.

There was always a place for this slice of animated magic in our family Christmas celebrations - usually just after all sitting down to Christmas dinner; the washing up done and all the plates of left-over food sitting in the fridge covered in layers of cling film.

Now, nicely full, with a glass of something appropriate in one hand, and the obligatory ill-fitting paper hat cocked jauntily on the top of our heads, the family would all be sitting down to watch Raymond Briggs’ greatest contribution to Christmas.

It’s difficult to describe what this 26 minute animated short really means. I was 9 years old when it was first shown, and I’m 37 now. It’s been in my life so long now that it’s impossible to recall it ever not being there!

Over the years it’s become a mandatory part of my Christmas celebrations (usually around 3.30pm), along with Briggs’ companion piece Father Christmas, which appeared 9 years later.

For a while Father Christmas was shown on the morning of Christmas Eve, while The Snowman continued to occupy the coveted Christmas Day slot. But now, somewhat frustratingly, things have been shifted around, with The Snowman being shown on Christmas Eve for the past 3 years, and Father Christmas being dropped from the schedules altogether.

So far The Snowman has had three short pre-title introduction films; the original Raymond Briggs intro from 1982, the alternate David Bowie version originally created for transmission in the US from 1983 and 20th anniversary Father Christmas introduction voiced by Mel Smith, still used to this day.

The Snowman intro from 1983

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