In Depth

John Cunliffe: creator of Postman Pat and Rosie and Jim dies age 85

Agency confirms news after obituary for the children’s book author appeared in the Ilkley Gazette

John Cunliffe, the creator of the popular children’s television character Postman Pat, has died aged 85.

His agency confirmed the news after an obituary for the author, who also created the ragdoll characters from ITV series Rosie and Jim, appeared in the Ilkley Gazette.

“John left his Ilkley home in a deluge of rain on Thursday, 20 September, 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 storybooks 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.”

Cunliffe was also the author of about 190 books for young children, including five volumes of poetry, as well as picture books and collections of stories.

Cunliffe created Postman Pat in 1981 and it went on to become a cultural phenomenon, with almost 200 episodes made, a spin-off series and a film in 2014.

His famous creations “were loved by generations of children, who grew up on the tales of Pat and his black and white cat, Jess, in the fictional village of Greendale”, says Sky News.

Cunliffe “wrote the show on an old Triumph typewriter in the back bedroom of a house in Kendal and teamed up with the animator Ivor Wood, who had worked on the Magic Roundabout, The Herbs, The Wombles and Paddington Bear”, says The Guardian.

He also appeared in Rosie and Jim as the rag doll pair's narrowboat driver, who they referred to as "Fizzgog".

Director of BBC Children’s Alice Webb said 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.”

According to the BBC, Prisons Minister Paul Goggins “once claimed his family was the inspiration for the Postman Pat character Goggins, who works in the post office in Greendale”.

The MP said his uncle Edmund Goggins worked with Cunliffe, who later lived in Ilkley in West Yorkshire, as a teacher in Manchester and “probably was the inspiration for the name Goggins”.

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