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The Snowman and The Snowdog composers return to their iconic soundtrack a decade on

Ilan Eshkeri and Andy Burrows are performing The Snowman and The Snowdog soundtrack at theatres to raise money for The Big Issue

Ten years ago this Christmas Eve, The Snowman and The Snowdog aired on Channel 4. There was some trepidation about creating a sequel to the iconic animation of Raymond Briggs’ 1978 book, which had aired on Boxing Day in 1982. But the new film won the hearts of young audiences around the world. 

To mark its 10th anniversary, composers Ilan Eshkeri and Andy Burrows, who created the Bafta-nominated soundtrack, are performing the music live. At two special showings of The Snowman and The Snowdog, in Birmingham and London, they will be accompanied by a concert orchestra. And these concerts will be raising money for The Big Issue, so we spoke to them about it.

Ilan Eshkeri: I can’t believe it has been 10 years already. It is making me feel quite old. We felt cautious going into it because The Snowman had been in our lives, at that time, for 30 years. It’s part of the collective experience of Christmas in this country. So if you start tinkering with it, you have the possibility of being the people who spoil the Christmas thing everybody loves.  

Andy Burrows: Being allowed through the door into that world felt very magical and beautiful. The attention to detail that made sure the sequel had gravitas and the connection to the original, retaining the way Raymond Briggs told the story about dealing with grief and the acceptance of death, was amazing. It was such a dream to tackle the music to the sequel to an iconic Christmas film. And such a massive and magical task. So to realise we didn’t totally fuck it up is quite a lovely thing. 

We both said, let’s just trust what our inner child tells us. That’s all we had to do

Andy Burrows on The Snowman and The Snowdog

IE: The original film’s soundtrack, which is a complete masterpiece, was very classical. In our world, we could use guitars and bass and drums, which wouldn’t have been appropriate in the first film.  

AB: We both said, Let’s just trust what our inner child tells us. That’s all we had to do. Because we were those kids in 1982 watching The Snowman

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IE: One example is the Downhill Ski Race song. We referenced the theme from Ski Sunday – so we tapped into our own nostalgia with the music. 

Channel 4’s original trailer to The Snowman and The Snowdog in 2012, featuring the music of Ilan Eshkeri and Andy Burrows

AB: Ilan’s got a daughter and I’ve got a couple of daughters so it is one of those things we might put on near Christmas.  

IE: My daughter told me they are doing The Snowman in literature at school this year, so she is excited to tell her classmates. There’s a picture of me and Andy where they drew the Snowman giving us a hug – so she’s seen all that stuff and feels intimately connected to the story.  

AB: They’re not interested in everything we do. But something about The Snowman and The Snowdog warms the cockles of your heart and they love it. They seem to feel quite proud of their dads with this one, so we’ve earned a few dad points.  

The story of The Snowman and The Snowdog genuinely relates to The Big Issue

Ilan Eshkeri

IE: For the concerts, it’s not only about all playing perfectly together, but playing along to the animation you’ve got to hit the right beat on every footstep. It’s really complicated pulling all the pieces of the puzzle together. We are playing a mixture of keyboards and guitars, but still shuffling our parts around before we rehearse with the orchestra. 

AB: The first half will be us playing along with the film, the second half will be more songs from the film and a bunch of Christmas classics, for a bit of a party vibe.  

IE: When we performed it years ago, there was a mosh pit of 10-year-olds all going nuts down the front. 

AB: It felt like such a natural pairing to work with The Big Issue on these shows. The Snowman and The Snowdog is all about love and looking out for one another – and that joy you can feel from connection. And Christmas is a time of reflection – everyone’s very aware of people coming together, but we also think about people who aren’t lucky enough to be with others or in a nice warm home 

IE: The modern Christmas is so lost with consumerism. But The Snowman and The Snowdog is not about that at all. The story genuinely relates to The Big Issue because the Snowman is effectively a stranger in the little boy Billy’s garden. But he invites him into the house, gives him food from the fridge and then, because he does something kind, the Snowman does something kind in return. So he meets Santa, who gives him a small present – but something small that changes everything, because it brings the dog to life.

This idea of being able to do something small and it having a very profound effect – that is kind of what The Big Issue is, right? This small act of buying a magazine from someone, who gets an income and a sense of self-worth from it, is very profound. So, like Andy, I’m just proud and humbled to be able to support The Big Issue

The Snowman and The Snowdog special showings take place at Birmingham Town Hall (December 16) and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London (20)

@adey70

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