John Cunliffe is the creator of Postman Pat. He is the writer of the original BBC TV series and the author of the first Postman Pat books. His name appears today on the packaging of Character’s Postman Pat toys ‘Original writer John Cunliffe’.
Back in the late 70’s, when Cunliffe was in his mid-fourties he went for an interview in London as a BBC producer in children’s TV. Though he didn’t get the job, the interviewer Cynthia Felgate invited Cunliffe back and asked if he would consider writing a new TV series for pre-schoolers with a rural setting. Cunliffe suggested a postman as the central character and the rest, as they say, is history…
John Arthur Cunliffe, born in 1933, found the inspiration for the Postman Pat character and stories during the six years he spent in Kendal, Cumbria. The small villages, sheep-dotted hills and friendly characterful folk of the Lake District were the real backdrop of Pat’s adventures. In particular it was the valley of Longsleddale near Kendal that was the model for Greendale.
At the time John Cunliffe was living in a tiny terraced cottage on Greenside with a small post office at the end of the street. Cunliffe picked up a lot about the life of the rural post service from chatting to the friendly postmaster.
Cunliffe was a teacher at the local Castle Park School and a fellow teacher Molly Clifton took John to visit some of the local farmers, experiences which also found their way into his writings.
Earlier in his life John Cunliffe had delivered the Mobile Library Service in rural Northumberland and these times, blended with his time in the Lakes, inspired the writing of Postman Pat, all about an affable country postman and his adventures delivering the post to a close-knit farming community.
Of course, when he sat down in his back bedroom to write Postman Pat John Cunliffe had not considered at all the needs of the modern licensing industry. To him Pat 1 was simply the best way to get around Greendale with a few sacks of mail, not a boxed set with exclusive figures that would sell well for retailers and drive sales for the toy industry.
No, Postman Pat’s days at the Special Delivery Service with its multi-vehicle playsets were still a world and a generation away…
‘Postman Pat’s Finding Day’ was the very first classic episode of Postman Pat, written by John Cunliffe, broadcast by the BBC in 1981.