To most children of the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and the 10’s (if that can be such a term), John Cunliffe went unnoticed, but his most notable works are well known by said “children” because John Cunliffe, author and teacher, created Postman Pat, and Rosie and Jim. It is at this moment that I have to admit that I was at the age that music had tugged at my shirt sleeves and Children’s TV was on the way out, so Postman Pat never really had an impact on me, nor did Rosie and Jim but the popularity of both of John Cunliffe’s creations spread to every corner of the British Isles, and justifiable so.
Born in Colne in Lancashire in June 1933, abandoned by his Father as a Baby and left to grow up under his Mother and his Great-uncle Herbert’s influence. Great-Uncle Herbert introduced young John to the literary works of Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare and encouraged him to explore science using a microscope, John Cunliffe was quite an intelligent young man.
He grew up in Longsleddale near Kendal in The Lake District and this place would be the inspiration for his most famous character, Postman Pat and the location of the fictional village, Greendale. He created the character and the location, where everyone was nice to each other, in stark contrast to the bullying he got for being a tall child (trust me kids, Bullies are cowards, always stand up to Bullies). John Cunliffe was in his late 40’s when he was noticed for his short stories based on a nice farmer and commissioned by the BBC to write a Children’s series based on someone nice and thus he created Postman Pat, initially 13 episodes, and then 13 more with all the animation duties directed by Ivor Wood, the animation genius behind the Wombles and Paddington Bear. The rest is BBC Children’s TV history, Rosie and Jim became just as popular as Postman Pat, who is still on TV today, a great legacy.
Following the success of Postman Pat, John Cunliffe became a local celebrity and he was the patron of the Ilkey Literature Festival. In 2010, he released Ghosts, a children’s story designed for the iPad. Throughout his career, John Cunliffe penned around 190 books for children, including picture books and volumes of poetry. On the 20th September 2018, John Cunliffe died of heart failure and the Ilkey Gazette announced his death with the following: “John Cunliffe left his home in a deluge of rain…… Never to return”.