In 1978 both Hamish Hamilton in the United Kingdom and Random House in the United States published children's picture book without words by English author Raymond Briggs, that book was The Snowman.
Then in 1982 the book was adapted into a twenty-six-minute animated television special by Dianne Jackson for the fledgling British public service Channel 4. It debuted on Channel 4 on December 26th in the UK and was an immediate success. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and won a BAFTA TV Award, out of two nominations and has become prominent in British popular culture and its showings have since become an annual festive event. In the states, The Snowman aired on the Nickelodeon Network as a Special Delivery in the mid 1980’s.
In the UK The Snowman book was the runner up for the Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the year's best children's book illustration by a British writer. In the US, it was named to the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award list in 1979. The 1982 was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Like the book the animated special is told the story is told through pictures, action and music which was scored by Howard Blake. The only exception to this was Blake’s composition of both the music and lyrics of the song, "Walking in the Air” performed by a St Paul's Cathedral choirboy Peter Auty.
The Snowman tells the story of a boy who builds a snowman one cold winter’s day, which, much to his surprise, comes to life at the stroke of midnight. As they explore they house they must keep very quiet so as not to awaken the boy’s parents.
Once outside they go for a motorcycle ride which disturbs many neighborhood animals. Later they take flight over the boy's village, then the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Pier, and then out over the ocean and north along the coast of Norway. They continue through an arctic landscape and into the aurora. They land in a snow-covered forest and join a party of snowmen. They meet Father Christmas with his reindeer, who gives him a scarf with a snowman pattern.
The morning after the return journey, the sun has come out and the boy wakes up to find the snowman has melted. The boy reaches into his pocket and finds the snowman scarf given to him by Father Christmas.
2012 sequel: The Snowman and the Snowdog
For the 30th anniversary of The Snowman a new twenty-three-minute special titled The Snowman and The Snowdog aired on Channel 4 on Christmas Eve 2012 at 8pm GMT. It was produced at the London-based animation company Lupus Films, with many of the original team returning, the sequel was made in the same traditional techniques as the original film, and features the Snowman, a new little boy and a snow dog, flying over landmarks and going to another party.
The idea of a sequel had been resisted by Raymond Briggs for several years, but finally in 2012 he gave his permission for the film. The sequel was dedicated to the memory of producer John Coates, who died in September 2012, during its production.
The Snowman has also been made into a stage show. It was first produced by Contact Theatre, Manchester in 1986. The Contact Theatre production was adapted and produced by Anthony Clark. It had a full script and used Howard Blake's music and lyrics. In 1993, Birmingham Repertory Company produced a version, with music and lyrics by Howard Blake, scenario by Blake, with Bill Alexander and choreography by Robert North.
Since 1997, Sadler's Wells has presented it every year as the Christmas Show at the Peacock Theatre. As in the book and the film, there are no words, apart from the lyrics of the song "Walking in the Air". The story is told through images and movement.
Special effects include the Snowman and boy flying high over the stage (with assistance of wires and harnesses) and ‘snow’ falling in part of the auditorium. The production has had several revisions – the most extensive happening in 2000, when major changes were made to the second act, introducing new characters: The Ice Princess and Jack Frost.
Quicksilva published an official video game in 1984, for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and MSX.