John lived in Kendal, Cumbria for six years, and it was the small towns and villages of that area which would provide the inspiration for his most famous character – Postman Pat. Greendale, where Postman Pat is set, is based on the valley of Longsleddale, near Kendal. After the success of the TV series, which he wrote as the result of a commission from the BBC, (produced by Ivor Wood) which debuted in 1981, John became something of a local celebrity, even having a room dedicated to him at Kendal's Museum of Lakeland Life.
John has always had an interest in reading, stating that when he was a child he enjoyed the novels of writers such as H. Rider Haggard, Sax Rohmer, Norman Hunter's Professor Branestawm stories and W. E. Johns's Biggles books. Indeed, John worked for many years as a librarian, and also as a teacher.
John's other well-known creation, Rosie and Jim, was also written for television in the 1990s. He scripted and presented the first fifty episodes, then turned some of them into books.
He has written many other books for children. He now lives in Ilkley, West Yorkshire.