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BBC pulls new version of The Snowman following composer complaint

By | Published on Wednesday 17 November 2021

The Snowman

The BBC has cancelled plans to air a new recording of ‘The Snowman’ this Christmas, after composer Howard Blake complained that he thought the new version – made using only human voices – would make his composition “sound silly” and “take a great deal of pleasure away from the world”.

The new arrangement, which would also include narration by Stephen Fry, was set to be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 this Christmas. Blake had seemingly agreed to license his music for the performance and its broadcast, but has now withdrawn his support.

Speaking to Radio 4’s ‘PM’ programme¬†earlier this week, Blake said: “I care a great deal about ‘The Snowman’. It’s worldwide. It is absolutely loved by people. What scares me is that if we have an arrangement that mocks it and makes it sound silly, it will take a great deal of pleasure away from the world, and I don’t approve of this arrangement. I license pretty well thousands of arrangements, but this particular one, I just actually think is not a good idea”.

In a statement, the BBC said: “We were saddened and surprised to hear of Mr Blake’s concerns as we sought permission from him and his publishers and he has been consulted and has contributed throughout. A distinguished team has been skilfully developing plans to bring this production to millions of listeners this Christmas, so it’s a great shame we have to remove this from our festive schedule, in line with Mr Blake’s wishes”.

One of Blake’s particular concerns seems to be that there are sounds in the original score which he believes cannot be accurately recreated by a human voice – such as the sound of a motorbike. Has he never seen the ‘Police Academy’ movies?