Papers of John Godber



Admin History:

Birth, family and early years

Born 18 May 1956 in Upton, West Yorkshire, John Harry Godber is the son of a miner and an English dramatist. He attended Minsthorpe High School, South Elmsall, and went on to undertake teacher training at Bretton Hall College, West Bretton, both institutions being in West Yorkshire. He is married to writer and actress Jane Thornton (aka Jane Clifford and Jane Godber) and the two have two children together and have co-written a number of plays.


After qualifying as a teacher, Godber remained in West Yorkshire and went on to become Head of Drama at Minsthorpe High School. He was subsequently appointed Professor of Drama at the University of Hull. In addition to his teaching posts, he was appointed Artistic Director of Hull Truck Theatre Company from 1984. He later became Creative Director of the same before leaving in 2010 having helped the theatre through financially difficult times. He was also associated with the theatre during its move from Spring Street to Ferensway in Hull. Following his departure from Hull Truck, Godber returned to his association with West Yorkshire as Creative Director of Theatre Royal Wakefield. It was here that he established The John Godber Company as the theatre's resident company.

TV Works

As a screenwriter, he wrote for the TV series Grange Hill, Brookside, The Ritz, My Kingdom for a Horse, Chalkface, and Bloomin' Marvellous. He also wrote other pieces for TV including Toys of Age, The Rainbow Coloured Disco Dancer, Crown Court, Shakers, Up 'n' Under, Bouncers!, Thunder Road and Portas, Os.


Godber's reputation as a playwright is well known. His writing was prolific and some of his plays have included Bouncers, Toys of Age, Cramp, Cry Wolf, Guyonal Priority Area, Happy Jack, Young Hearts Run Free, Bouncers, Up 'n' Under, Up 'n' Under II, Blood Sweat and Tears, Cramp - the Musical, Teechers, Oliver Twist, Salt of the Earth, On the Piste, Everyday Heroes, Shakers Re-stirred, Bouncers - 1990s Remix, Happy Families, April in Paris, The Office Party, Passion Killers, Lucky Sods, Shakers the Musical, Gym and Tonic, Weekend Breaks, It Started with a Kiss, Hooray for Hollywood, The Weed, Perfect Pitch, Ella Chapman, Thick as a Brick, Big Trouble in the Little Bedroom, Seasons in the Sun, On a Night Like This, Our House, Departures, Young Hearts, Men of the World, Reunion, Next Best Thing, Sold, Our House, Funny Turns, The Debt Collectors and Losing the Plot.

He has also co-written a number of plays with his wife, Jane Thornton, including Shakers, The Sculptor's Surprise and Lost and Found. In addition, he has written a number of adaptations including ones for A Clockwork Orange, A Christmas Carol, Moby Dick, Dracula, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and A Kind of Loving.

Awards and accolades

Throughout his career, Godber has been the recipient of various literary honours. Between 1981 and 1983 he won numerous awards at the National Student Drama Festival. He won five Edinburgh Fringe Festival awards including the 1984 Laurence Olivier Comedy of the Year award for Up 'n' Under. Bouncers was nominated for UK Comedy of the Year in 1985, won several Los Angeles Critics Circles awards and five awards in Chicago in 1987. On the Piste was nominated for Comedy of the Year in 1993, whilst April in Paris was nominated for Comedy of the Year in 1994. My Kingdom for a Horse was nominated for an alternative BAFTA and the Shakers TV version was nominated the UK's Best Children's TV Drama. He won two BAFTAs for 'Odd Squad' written and directed on location in Hull and screened by BBC children's TV. In the 1993 Plays and Players Yearbook he was calculated to be the third most performed playwright in the UK behind William Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn.

The papers of John Godber consist of notebooks, scripts, accounts, contracts and agreements, correspondence, production records, reviews and interviews, publicity material, programmes, photographs, audio-visual material, papers of Jane Thornton, and various miscellaneous records. The majority of the papers can be found in a series of writer's and director's notebooks dating from 1991, and a series of scripts covering the period 1970s-2006.