#AdventCalendar: The man who was the voice of Swedish Christmas

#AdventCalendar: The man who was the voice of Swedish Christmas
Bengt Feldreich is known as Mr Christmas by some in Sweden due to his key contribution to a beloved festive TV show. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/SCANPIX/TT
Each day of December up until Christmas Eve, The Local is sharing the story behind a surprising Swedish fact as part of our own Advent calendar.

Each Christmas Eve at 3pm, more than three million Swedes sit down to watch the festive classic Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul (Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas). It's a series of Disney cartoons, with new snippets added each year.

And one man played a pivotal role in the series that saw him nicknamed 'Mr Christmas'.

Bengt Feldreich, a Swedish radio and TV journalist and host, had the job of narrating the show from 1960 onwards and was particularly well known for his rendition of the classic Disney song Ser du stjärnan i det blå? (the Swedish version of When you Wish Upon a Star from Pinocchio).

In 1985, Feldreich retired, but he returned as the voice of Christmas each year, recording the new segments that were added to Kalle Anka. Every Christmas, snippets are added from two new Disney films.

The presenter himself said he believed the show was so popular because “in a time where everything changes so quickly, it is human nature to want to recognize and hold onto something you remember from when you were small”. 

Bengt Feldreich pictured during the recording of new segments. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/SCANPIX/TT

Feldreich's voice is instantly recognizable to most Swedes, and he credited the fact that he sounded the same over the years to a lifetime without smoking. But despite being seen by many as an essential part of Christmas celebrations, he didn't earn a huge paycheck from the job.

In fact, the presenter said that his only payment for the yearly recordings was his taxi fare to and from the studio. 

Sadly, he passed away this year on October 21st, at the age of 94. According to a statement from his family, Feldreich died peacefully, but he will of course live on in the annual Disney tradition.

SVT, the broadcaster behind Kalle Anka, has said it plans to continue using Feldreich's narration in future editions of the existing footage. He also recorded the new segments for 2019 before his death, and his family have approved the decision to include these recordings in this year's show.

At the moment, it's unclear how the dubbing of new snippets will work in future years. But for many people in Sweden, it will always be Bengt Feldreich who is the voice of Christmas.

Each day until Christmas Eve, The Local is looking at the story behind one surprising fact about Sweden, as agreed by our readers. Find the rest of our Advent Calendar HERE and sign up below to get an email notification when there's a new article.


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