Original cel from iconic Christmas film The Snowman discovered in London

Posted on 27/11/2019 in Press Coverage

Fans of The Snowman could buy the ultimate gift this Christmas – a cel from the animated TV film which has become a treasured part of Britain’s festivities.

An iconic image from the 37-year-old film, which is shown on TV annually, usually on Christmas Eve, is coming up for auction on December 9 after being uncovered by Hansons London in Teddington. Its guide price is £1,000-£2,000.

It belongs to Chrissie Cocks, from Kingston Upon Thames, who used to work in the TV industry along with her late husband Les Cocks. He was the producer of TV talent show New Faces in the 1970s, which led to the discovery of stars like Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood.

The decision to sell the picture prompted Mrs Cocks to look back on a life filled with celebrity moments, particularly when she owned Mr Bojangles Bar in Hampton Wick, Greater London, from 1985-90 with her husband.

She said: “Lots of people from the TV industry used to go there. Record producer Mickie Most was best man at our wedding and Les was very good friends with Sammy Davis jnr, hence the name of the bar, and Frank Sinatra.”

Chrissie and Les Cocks with Sammy Davis Jnr in the late 1970s.

“I was given The Snowman cel in the late 1980s by a cameraman who had been working on the film. He was a customer of ours. He just asked me if I wanted it one day and I said, ‘yes please’.

“Les died at the age of 83 in 2011 and I have been slowly downsizing and clearing things out. There isn’t really a place in my apartment for the picture and it’s just been stuck in a cupboard. It seems ridiculous keeping something so special hidden away. A fan of the film would really love it. Perhaps a family might like it for their children.”

The Snowman is an animated television film based on Raymond Briggs’ 1978 picture book The Snowman. Directed by Dianne Jackson for Channel 4. A cel, short for celluloid, is a transparent sheet on which objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation. The film was first shown on December 26, 1982. An immediate hit, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and won a BAFTA TV Award.

Hansons valuer Barry Jones with the picture.

The story is told through pictures and music, scored by Howard Blake, and is wordless aside from its famous song, Walking in the Air. The orchestral score was performed by the Sinfonia of London and the song by Peter Auty, a St Paul's Cathedral choirboy.

The Snowman ranks 71 on the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes, a list drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000. It was also voted four in UKTV Gold’s Greatest TV Christmas Moments.

Chris Kirkham, associate director of Hansons London, said: “This is a wonderful find. The Snowman is part and parcel of a British family Christmas and captivates new generations of children every year. I’m sure it will melt some hearts when it goes to auction.”

The Snowman cel will be sold on Monday, December 9 at Hansons London, Normansfield Theatre, 2A Langdon Park, Teddington, TW11 9PS. Estimate: £1,000-£2,000. To find out more or to arrange a free valuation in the London area, email: [email protected]