UK TV review: Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby
James R | On 28, Dec 2021
Terry Pratchett. The name alone is enough to conjure up heart-warming memories of books read as a child – or of books read to one’s own young relatives. The Abominable Snow Baby was a short story written back in the 1960s by the author and, given its subject matter and the word “snow” in the title, it’s perhaps no surprise that it should get the Christmas-animated-short treatment from Channel 4.
The half-hour film whisks us away to the town of Blackberry, where the residents find themselves snowed in. The disarray is heightened by the appearance of a 14-foot abominable snowman, which is immediately shunned by the residents out of fear. Only one person shows it compassion: the no-nonsense Granny (Juliet Walters), who inspires her grandson, Albert (Hugh Dancy), to show kindness and courage too. It soon becomes apparent (if the title doesn’t give it away) that the snowman isn’t quite what it appears – and that even the most intimidating, unfamiliar figure comes with its own family and loved ones.
That humanising message has a more timely resonance than, say The Snowman, with which this will inevitably be compared – and that modern edge helps offset the other areas where it struggles to live up to the other “Snow-noun” legend, whose shadow looms large. That’s mainly in terms of the animation, which is cute but feels a little too cleanly cut for such a fuzzy, furry tale.
But the star of the show, undoubtedly, is Terry Pratchett, whose wordplay shines through the vocal talents of the cast – Walters’ fearless biddy is a delight, while David Harewood’s narration has a gorgeous gravitas and warmth. “If you think I’m going up on Even Moor you’ve got another think to thunk,” says one. “He’s not abominable. In fact, he’s very ‘bominable!” says Granny. It’s impossible not to enjoy any family animation that celebrates such witty, silly writing – and a sweet visual cameo (of sorts) by Pratchett in the opening serves as a reminder that the author’s legacy, like that of The Snowman, isn’t about to melt away any time soon.
Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby is available on All 4 until 24th January 2022.