John was born the son of a miner in Upton, West Yorkshire. He trained as a teacher of drama at Bretton Hall College. Whilst he was Head of Drama at Minsthorpe High School, the school he attended as a student, he won every major award at the National Student Drama Festival between 1981 and 1983.
John’s plays are performed across the world. He has the distinction of being one of the most performed writers in the English language. He has won numerous awards for his plays, including a Laurence Olivier Award and seven Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.
His plays include: BOUNCERS, UP 'N' UNDER, APRIL IN PARIS, TEECHERS, BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS, CRAMP, HAPPY JACK, SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN, SALT OF THE EARTH, PASSION KILLERS, HAPPY FAMILIES, UP 'N' UNDER ll, GYM AND TONIC, DRACULA, LUCKY SODS, HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD, WEEKEND BREAKS, IT STARTED WITH A KISS, UNLEASHED, THICK AS A BRICK, BIG TROUBLE IN THE BEDROOM, SEASONS IN THE SUN, ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS, OUR HOUSE, DEPARTURES, MEN OF THE WORLD, REUNION, SCREAMING BLUE MURDER, BLACK TIES AND TALES, PERFECT PITCH, GOING DUTCH, CHRISTMAS CRACKERS and CROWN PRINCE.
His first play for the John Godber Co was THE DEBT COLLECTORS, a co-production with Theatre Royal Wakefield which garnered critical acclaim and rave reviews from the national press after touring to 14 venues across the country.
Since then the company has successfully toured revivals of TEECHERS and
BOUNCERS, WEEKEND BREAKS, A KIND OF LOVING and ON THE PISTE amongst others.
Within his extensive career in writing and directing in TV and film, John also devised the BBC2 series CHALKFACE, and his screenplay MY KINGDOM FOR A HORSE, starring Sean Bean, was nominated for an Alternative BAFTA Award.
John’s first feature film, UP 'N' UNDER, was released in January 1998. In 2005, he cowrote ODD SQUAD for BBC2 with his wife, Jane, which was shot in Hull using local actors. ODD SQUAD won two British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards in the Schools Drama category and in the BAFTA Original Writer section.
John has an MA from Leeds University, an hon DLitt from Hull University, an hon DLitt from Lincoln University, a DUni for the Open University and was a PHD research student for five years at Leeds University.
He is a professor of contemporary theatre at Liverpool Hope University, a visiting professor of drama at Hull University, a professor at Sheffield Hallam University, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a fellow of Regents University, London.
John was Artistic Director of Hull Truck for 26 years, taking it from bankruptcy in 1984 to its new home in a £15 million theatre in 2010.
In 2011, he set up The John Godber Company with his playwright wife, Jane, and formed a partnership with Theatre Royal Wakefield to produce two tours of his work each year.
Since then his plays have continued to tour the UK and have been seen by over 100,000 people.