One Christmas Eve in Brighton, James wakes up and looks out his bedroom window and sees that it is snowing and goes into his back garden to play in the snow and decides to build a snowman and gives it lumps of coal for eyes and buttons, an orange for his nose, draws on a mouth and lastly gives him a hat and scarf. Just after making the snowman, James is called back into his house by his mother as it is his bedtime.
Later that night, James goes downstairs to check on his snowman, but then on the stroke of midnight, to James's surprise, the snowman comes to live and comes into the house and James shows him around such as the living room where the snowman goes over to the fireplace but moves away from it because it was starting to cause him to melt. They then go into the kitchen where the snowman tries on other fruit for noses before James takes him upstairs into his room and later his parents where the snowman tries on some of their clothes. James and the snowman then go outside where they go for a ride on James's father's motorbike. After returning to the garden, the snowman takes James's hand and they fly off into the air and goes past other houses, Brighton Pier and a cruise ship before ending up in the North Pole, where a party attended by other snowmen is taking place. When there James also meets Father Christmas who gives him a scarf for a present.
As the sun is beginning to rise, James and the snowman return home and give each other a hug before, James goes back into his house and into his bed. In the morning, James wakes up and rushes downstairs into the garden to see the snowman only to his sadness that he has melted and James takes out his scarf and mourns his friend.
James makes a small appearance in this film which takes place roughly a year or so after the events of The Snowman. James is seen attending another snowman party with the snowman and reunites with Father Christmas, who says that he is glad that James could make it again, referring to the party not his snowman.
Soon after, James and the snowman alert to Father Christmas that there are forgotten presents in his sleigh, causing Father Christmas to leave quickly to deliver them. The presents are then revealed to be for the British Royal Family.
The Snowman and The Snowdog
James doesn't physically appear in the film's 2012 sequel but appears in a photo of along with the snowman (along with the snowman's hat, scarf and now dried up orange nose and several toys), which is found by the sequel's protagonist Billy, who had recently moved into the house with his mother.
Though the house is revealed to have been previously James' house, the area surrounding it looks different from the first film as it was surrounded by fields whilst the one in this film is in a housing estate. Though it is revealed in a behind the scenes feature on the DVD of The Snowman and The Snowdog that it is the same house from the first film and that the housing estate had been built around it.
- In the original book, James and the snowman don't meet Father Christmas. Instead they simply fly to Brighton Pier and stay there until sunrise before returning to James' house. Also in the original book, James and the snowman found into his parents' car and flash the lights, but in the film, they drive a motorbike through the countryside.
- James is named after the husband (then boyfriend) of one of The Snowman's animators Joanna Harrison.
- According to the film's animatiac, James was going to have the surname of Allen and his home was called Holly House.