John Finch was born in Liverpool in the years of the depression. He was brought up in Yorkshire when his father disappeared and his mother returned to live with her father, a retired Yorkshire miner. By the time he left school at the age of fourteen he had been to twelve schools, including an orphanage.
The war years
At the outbreak of war, basically uneducated, he did various jobs but finally joined the Merchant Navy at the age of sixteen and sailed from Liverpool in 1941. He served as a sparks on a freighter, a tanker, a troopship and a rescue tug before being medically discharged in 1944.
After the war
His first post war job was as a trainee librarian at a miner’s welfare library, but having a long time ambition to be a writer he soon left to live in London, firstly as secretary and general amanuensis to Jacob Epstein, the sculptor, when he lived opposite the London home of Winston Churchill. He stayed in London to write for various magazines such as Illustrated and Picture Post with occasional contributions to the BBC.
He returned North in the early fifties to become press release writer to Leyland Motors in Lancashire. Later, he joined a heavy engineering company in Rochdale and became marketing manager. In his spare time he continued writing and his first play, the first in television to have an industrial setting, was transmitted in 1958.
In 1960 he became the first trainee writer to be contracted to write Coronation Street, and later became editor and producer. He went on to become Granada’s most prolific writer and created, wrote and edited many of the companies longest running serials and series. These included the 52 hour series A Family at War which sold throughout the world and is still being transmitted in countries such as India, Pakistan and the Middle Eastern countries. Norwegian viewers recently voted it the best television series ever. He later wrote the 39 hour series Sam, a tribute to his mining village upbringing, and went on to create and write many other long running series.
In 1975 he was given the award of Best Series Writer by the Writers Guild of Great Britain, and received the Broadcasting Press Guild Critics Award for Sam in the same year.
A novel, Cuddon Return (now reissued as A Shaft of Light), sold out, and in 2002 he completed his first play for the theatre, Joe, described as “a play for two actors and a load of junk”. It has been warmly praised by critics, producers, actors and fellow writers.
He has lived with his family for many years in the Yorkshire Dales.
Read the reissue of Cuddon Return (now retitled) by John Finch in an exclusive ebook edition from Wyndham Books: