16. The Indomitable Snowman
As sure as Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve or leftover turkey on Boxing Day, the beloved animation The Snowman will be watched by millions of people all over the UK this festive period.
The book, The Snowman was first published in 1978 by the children’s writer and illustrator Raymond Briggs. The animated film was later released in 1982 and caught the hearts of thousands of children (and adults) around the world. Its signature tune “I’m walking in the Air” stormed the music charts in 1985 when sung by Aled Jones. The success of the book, animation and theme tune have ensured that The Snowman has become as synonymous with Christmas as mince pies.
A whole host of official merchandise has been created in relation to The Snowman over the decades including a number of ceramic figures. Royal Doulton held the licence and were the first ceramic company to produce a range of sculptured figures based on the character in 1985. Manufactured by the John Beswick Studio of Royal Doulton (Royal Doulton took over John Beswick Ltd in 1969) the first range ran for just nine years as did not sell as well as expected. However, the company saw fitting to issue a new range of limited edition figures in 1999 which included “Dancing in the Snow” and “The Journey Ends”.
Another Stoke-on-Trent company, Coalport, acquired the licence to produce ceramic snowman products in 2001. They produced over thirty different figures for general release as well as a number of limited edition pieces. Today the Snowman figurine is again manufactured under the John Beswick name as in 2004 the Beswick name and product design rights were purchased from Royal Doulton and are now part of the Dartington Crystal group of brands.
The Snowman book was first published over 40 years ago, and it is heart-warming to think of all of those children who experienced the book and animation the first time around now sharing that same experience with children of their own. Here’s to many more decades of The Snowman on bookshelves, TVs and mantelpieces everywhere.