John Cunliffe, the children’s author and screenwriter behind iconic characters Postman Pat and Rosie and Jim, has died aged 85.
Born in Colne, Lancashire, Cunliffe later moved to Kendal in Westmoreland, where he found the inspiration for Pat’s fictional village Greendale in the valley of Longsleddale.
After years working as a librarian and teacher Cunliffe applied to be a producer of children’s programmes at the BBC.
According to Cunliffe, the BBC did not offer him the job, but instead asked him to create a series for pre-school children.
“I went back to Kendal, and sat down to create Postman Pat… and the rest is history!” he said in 2006.
Postman Pat first aired in 1981; today the series went on to be shown around the world in multiple languages.
Cunliffe also wrote and presented popular children’s TV show Rosie and Jim, which followed the adventures of two puppets on a canal boat.
“We are saddened to hear the news of John’s death,” director of BBC Children’s Alice Webb said in a tribute.
“Postman Pat has been a hugely popular character on the BBC for nearly 40 years and was an absolute favourite from my own childhood.
“Postman Pat’s enduring popularity speaks to the genuine charm and warmth that John imbued in the characters that populate Greendale. It’s a world you’d like to be part of – a community that cares, is full of heart and full of fun – and that is a lovely thing to show audiences, both young and old.
“John created a real and relatable world that will continue to entertain our audience for a long time to come and I count myself lucky to be one of millions of children whose childhoods were enriched by John’s creations.”
Over the years Cunliffe also published various poems, short stories and children’s books, some of which starred his more familiar characters.
Cunliffe passed away on 20th September, with local paper the Ilkley Gazette carrying his death notice.
“Left his Ilkley home in a deluge of rain on Thursday, September 20, never to return,” the tribute read. “Even the skies wept for John the gifted creator of Postman Pat, Rosie and Jim and author of many earlier published collections of poetry and picture story books for children. John’s last poetry collection, significantly entitled “Dare You Go”, has now come to fruition for John has dared to go and he has gone.”