‘It’s about death, not Christmas’

The creator of Christmas favourite, The Snowman, said he is frustrated at how his story was hijacked by sentimentalists — saying it was meant to be about death.

Raymond Briggs, who wrote the story in 1978 and is a self-confessed “miserable git”, has finally consented to a sequel — The Snowman and The Snowdog — which will be broadcast by Channel 4 on Christmas Eve.

The original, Oscar-nominated The Snowman, famed for the scene of the boy and his snowman taking flight to the iconic strains of Walking in the Air, has been screened thousands of times at Christmas since 1982.

Yet Briggs, 78, said that his story, which depicts the snowman melting, was designed to introduce children to mortality and should never have become an accompaniment to mince pies. “The idea was clean, nice, and silent. I don’t have happy endings,” he told the Christmas edition of Radio Times.

“I create what seems natural and inevitable. The snowman melts, my parents died, animals die, flowers die. Everything does. There’s nothing particularly gloomy about it. It’s a fact of life.”

The animated version, which appeared four years after the publication of Briggs’s book, inserted Walking in the Air, a motorcycle ride, and a visit to Santa. Briggs said: “I thought, ‘It’s a bit corny and twee, dragging in Christmas’, as The Snowman had nothing to do with that, but it worked extremely well.”

Briggs also dismissed the use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in films as “too perfect”.

He said he endorsed the follow-up, partly because it was hand-drawn, and said: “It would have been cashing in to do it before. Now it won’t do any harm, and it’s not vulgar and American.

“I’ve never touched a computer, or anything like that. CGI makes every-thing too perfect, but they’re sticking to the old ways. I’m a notorious grumbler, but I found nothing to grumble about.”

Briggs admitted he does not read many children’s books and is “not a fan of Christmas”.

“You can’t keep up with the damned things,” he said of children’s books.

“I’ve never read Enid Blyton. I went once to Roald Dahl’s birthday party so must have read something of his. He was fairly curmudgeonly.”


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