John Smythe has described himself as 'a middle-class boy from suburban Wellington New Zealand who’d worked in insurance for three years, done a year at university, completed three months national service then registered as a conscientious objector, toured schools for the rest of that year with the New Zealand Players Drama Quartet, gone to NIDA to learn his craft properly then spent a year as an actor/playwright-in-residence/tutor etc with the Melbourne Theatre Company' prior to becoming part of the Australian Performing Group at Melbourne's Pram Factory.
Following his time at the Pram Factory, Smythe 'wrote scripts for Crawfords' before living overseas and in Sydney. He later returned to New Zealand where he worked as a freelance 'writer, actor, theatre critic and corporate communications consultant'.
A daily television drama series set in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough, Neighbours chronicles the lives of the residents of Ramsay Street. The series initially revolved around three families: the Ramsays (at number 24 Ramsay Street), the Robinsons (at number 26), and the Clarkes (at number 28). The scope of the series has since broadened to include new Ramsay Street familes.