There’s snow business like show business

Floating in the sky

Took the Enfants Terribles last night to the 25th anniversary celebration of The Snowman, one of Channel 4’s first commissions, originally TXing in November 1982, the month the Channel took to the air. It had been commissioned that February from John Coates (who also produced Yellow Submarine for The Beatles) – he was at the event yesterday evening at the Peacock Theatre near Lincoln’s Inn. Camilla Deakin, former Channel 4 Commissioning Editor for Animation, introduced me to John, a stalwart champion of British animation.

I’m currently working with Camilla and her business partner at Lupus Films, Ruth Fielding, and the comfortable creatures at Aardman in Bristol to explore where the next 25 years of Channel 4 animation may go in the networked, on demand world we now inhabit.

I bumped into David Baddiel for the first time in a long while and his charming Mrs, Morwena Banks of Absolutely Productions. In the wake of his recent BBC1 documentary on the question of restitution for property stolen from Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators in Germany, Poland and Eastern Europe, he is keen to move beyond Jewish and football themes to explore lively approaches to documentary in other areas, more allied to his novel writing themes.

Fellow comedian Rowland Rivron, as dapper as ever in a pinstripe reminiscent of that other groovy fella Jools Holland, seemed to be an afficianado of The Snowman stage show, highlighting variations of scenes and costumes from the previous times he has sat through it over the child-rearing years. Since returning purified from Extreme Celebrity Detox, he seems to have lapsed a bit from the strict regime of vomit-inducing fluids he bravely tested out on behalf of Channel 4 and is comfortable again sipping a drop of wine and downing a petite mince pie.

Don’t think Tamara Beckwith downed even one of the mini mince pies – there wasn’t room in her spray-on jeans. Other glam in the place included Natasha Kaplinsky and two this-generation female Blue Peter presenters who I don’t know the names of but of whom the older Enfant Terrible asked me: are they lesbians? Not sure what prompted the question but brought to light what a different world we’re in compared to the innocent days of Valerie Singleton.

Said Enfant was delighted to chat with Duncan Ballantine of Dragon’s Den – “I wouldn’t have invested in those smiley stickers – there are loads of things like that in schools” he confidently pronounced to the tanned tycoon, evidence of the real educative value of the Den.

Meanwhile the Mrs was altogether more interested in John Simm of Life on Mars and Human Traffic fame (which was produced by my one-time flatmate and old friend of the Mrs, Emer McCourt – check out her first novel Elvis, Jesus and Me).

Reflecting back on that first month of Channel 4 chimed in perfectly with the evening before – the first annual 4Talent Awards, at which I had the honour of presenting the New Media award to Mark Bowness, the fella behind the brilliant TribeWanted. The warm, intimate event at C4 HQ in Horseferry Road was perfectly MCed by comedian Paul Tonkinson, light but respectful of the young talent in the room. And the winners – 20 selected from art forms ranging from sit-com writing to architecture, from documentary photography to fashion design – were buzzing with fresh talent. Bastards.

No, it was fabulous – and very C4. Had me floating in the moonlit sky. You can peruse them all here on 4Talent / Ten4. The recognition clearly meant a lot to the bearers of the illuminated, chameleon-colour-changing awards (from Matmos, the lavalamp supremos) and was a clear motivational boost. As Channel 4 moves into the fully digital age and its next quarter century, the kind of energy and fresh talent in the Drum (the round room in the basement of the Channel where the post-awards drinkies took place) will be central to the evolving organisation and the beat to which it marches.

9 comments so far

  1. practical psychologist on

    I love the Snowman. My daughter saw the ballet version at Sadler’s Wells and was captivated. I have the DVD primed for a viewing on christmas morning.

    I presume you knew that Valerie Singleton was, and I presume still is, a lesbian? I believe she may have spent time with Joan Armatrading.

  2. ArkAngel on

    I wasn’t sure if it was true or a vicious rumour. Either way, back then I wouldn’t have known to ask the question. I was probably more interested in Shep.

  3. JimBo on

    Nice one. It’s Duncan Bannatyne btw.

  4. ArkAngel on

    Bloody internet, serves me right for trusting blogs, can’t believe a thing you read…

    “One Touch Football: Dragon’s Den, OTF Division.
    The woman trying to sell furry bogseat covers hilariously pissed off Duncan Ballantine by claiming that toilet seats in Scotland are much colder than …;f=3;t=012935 – 67k -“

  5. mary on

    is there a book out by this author titled the snowman? it is a favorite of my closest friend and would love to give her a copy for christmas. is the snowman by raymond briggs based on this video?? please hurry with a response thanks

  6. mary on

    is there a book out based on this video the snowman by harold briggs? it’s a favorite of my closest friend and would love to give her a copy for christmas. or is the snowman by raymond briggs based on the video by blake?

  7. mary on

    is there a book based on the video : the snowman by harold blake? or is the book the snownman by raymond briggs based on blakes video.the video is a favorite of my closest friend and would love to give her a copy thanks…

  8. ArkAngel on

    Mary, as far as I know the animated film was based on the children’s book by Raymond Briggs. Howard Blake composed the music for the film. Raymond Briggs the writer did the voice of the older James/narrator in the original version in 1982 but in the later re-release David Bowie did the voice of the narrator. You can easily get the DVD on Amazon etc.

  9. practical psychologist on

    Yes – I always thought that it a Briggs book first. I still watch it every Christmas. Watching it with your children adds something extra.

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