Australia

Reg Grundy: Producer who helped create Neighbours dies

Reg Grundy, the television producer behind the Australian soap opera Neighbours, has died aged 92.

Mr Grundy's production company also created many of Australia's other biggest TV shows, including The Young Doctors and Prisoner, called Prisoner: Cell Block H in the UK and elsewhere.

He developed Neighbours in the 1980s, with head of drama Reg Watson.

The popular soap, which made Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan international stars, is still running today.

The Reg Grundy Organisation, founded in 1959, produced many of Australia's most-popular television shows.

It has since been bought and is now known as FremantleMedia Australia.

Australian national treasure

The head of FremantleMedia Australia, Ian Hogg, said in a statement that Grundy was a national treasure, and that his "legacy to Australian entertainment is insurmountable".

"His visionary ability to know how to connect Australian families through some of this country's most loved programming has stood the test of time," he said.

"Reg is an icon and he will be sorely missed."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Generations of people around the world have grown up with productions associated with Reg Grundy

Mr Grundy initially made an impact with game shows including Wheel of Fortune and Sale of the Century.

He later branched out into drama and also produced Abba: The Movie, a successful documentary which opened in 1977.

His name is so ubiquitous in Australia that "Reg Grundies" is commonly used as rhyming slang for "undies".

In 2014, it emerged that he had been behind an undeclared donation to a fundraiser linked to the country's Liberal party, some years before.

He died at his home in Bermuda, where he has lived with his wife Joy since 1982. The couple met when she auditioned for one of his game shows. They were married for 45 years.


'Mr Television's' greatest hits

As well as developing hugely popular game shows for Australian TV, including Blankety Blank, Wheel of Fortune and Sale of the Century, the Grundy production company came up with the original ideas for some of the era's biggest hits.

Neighbours

The most well-known of his creations, Neighbours began in the 1980s. The fictional Ramsey Street launched many careers in addition to those of Kylie and Jason. Russell Crowe appeared for several episodes as former prisoner Kenny Larkin, so too did Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth as Josh Taylor and singer Natalie Imbruglia as Beth Brennan.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan starred in the soap Neighbours

Prisoner

Starting in 1979 and one of Grundy's biggest hits around the world - it was known as Prisoner: Cell Block H in the UK and US - the soap was set in a fictional women's prison. Alongside the mundane details of life inside, it also dealt with more adventurous issues for the television of its day, such as homosexuality, social injustice and prison reform.

Shortland Street

When Television New Zealand (TVNZ) wanted to create a soap opera set in a medical facility, Grundy came up with the format for the series Shortland Street Hospital. The series, which began in 1992 and which TVNZ calls "New Zealand's favourite drama", is still running.

Young Doctors

This series about young medics, who made little attempt to separate their professional and personal lives, was one of the few big Grundy shows that never won an award. However, it still ran for more than seven years.

Restless Years

Grundy's company did not just make its own programmes, it also pioneered foreign versions of its ideas. Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden - the Dutch remake of The Restless Years - lasted much longer than the English-language original.

Waterloo Station

Public facilities were long a favoured setting for Grundy soaps, and this was no exception, focussing on characters connected to a fictional police training academy in Sydney.


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