John Cunliffe: Creator of Postman Pat, black and white cat 1933-2018
● John Cunliffe, who has died at the age of 85, created the children’s television favourites Postman Pat and Rosie and Jim. He made a world of great charm and innocence in which everybody looks out for everybody else, families are always happy, crime is unknown, everyone is polite, and the sun always shines.
Postman Pat and his black and white cat, Jess, first hit television screens in 1981 and proved an instant hit with young children and their parents. The appeal, Cunliffe suggested in 2009, lay in the fact that “the postman to a child is someone who brings birthday cards and birthday presents — they are not aware that he also brings tax returns and bills”.
A second series was produced in the 1990s and in the meantime Postman Pat had become international big business, with merchandising and tie-in books over which Cunliffe had little or no control. He had signed away his rights and got nothing for repeats and only a small percentage of the income from comics and other spin-offs.
He applied himself to a new project over which he would have more control: the story of two rag dolls called Rosie and Jim who live on a narrow-boat in Birmingham. It first aired on ITV in 1990 and ran for eight seasons.
Cunliffe is survived by his wife, Sylvia, and a son.