Ray­mond Briggs: Snow­men, Bo­gey­men & Milk­men

Mon­day, BBC Two, 9pm

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - WEEKEND TV -

Forty years ago, Ray­mond Briggs used a pot of coloured pen­cil crayons to cre­ate The Snow­man, a word­less book of il­lus­tra­tions that would go on to in­spire the Chan­nel 4 film. His time­less story of the friend­ship be­tween a young boy and a snow­man con­tin­ues to de­light gen­er­a­tion af­ter gen­er­a­tion with its ef­fort­less blend of warmth, hu­mour and sad­ness.

Be­fore think­ing up that in­stant clas­sic, Briggs had cre­ated Fa­ther Christ­mas (1973) and its se­quel Fa­ther Christ­mas Goes on Hol­i­day (1975). The third of his early “comics” was Fun­gus the Bo­gey­man (1977), which chron­i­cled one day in the life of a work­ing-class Bo­gey­man with the mun­dane job of scar­ing hu­man be­ings.

On Christ­mas Eve 2012, the 30th an­niver­sary of the orig­i­nal Snow­man film was marked by a se­quel, The Snow­man and the Snow­dog, which, like its pre­de­ces­sor, in­stantly cap­tured the na­tion’s hearts.

This play­ful, mov­ing and of­ten emo­tional por­trait of the Wim­ble­don-born son of a milk­man and a for­mer lady’s maid is told through in­ter­views with Briggs, spe­cially com­mis­sioned il­lus­tra­tions by Chris Rid­dell and con­tri­bu­tions from friends, col­leagues and ad­mir­ers, in­clud­ing Academy Award-win­ning an­i­ma­tor, Nick Park, ac­tor, Andy Serkis, and car­toon­ists, Steve Bell and Posy Sim­mons.

As Park says in the film, he couldn’t imag­ine Wal­lace and Gromit with­out the ex­pe­ri­ence of read­ing Briggs’ books.

In the same way, mil­lions of us couldn’t pic­ture a Christ­mas with­out The Snow­man and, al­though we have to wait an­other year to watch it on TV again, here is a chance to pay homage to the ge­nius who dreamt up a Christ­mas tra­di­tion.

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