Wednesday 7 December 2016

Jason Donovan leads tributes to 'legendary' Neighbours creator Reg Grundy

Published 09/05/2016 | 12:32

Kylie and Jason in Neighbours
Kylie and Jason in Neighbours
Jason Donovan starred alongside Kylie Minogue in Neighbours

Jason Donovan has led tributes to the "legendary" Reg Grundy, the producer behind soap opera Neighbours, who has died at the age of 92.

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Grundy, who also presented his country's version of Wheel Of Fortune, died in Bermuda where he had lived with his wife Joy since 1982, the BBC said.

Donovan, who starred alongside Kylie Minogue in the Australian soap opera as young couple Scott and Charlene Robinson, said he was "lucky" to have known the TV mogul.

The pop star said: "I was so sad to hear about the passing of Reg Grundy. I'm old enough to remember a time when the true pioneers of Australian television industry built it from nothing and gave opportunities to actors, directors and crew alike.

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan perform at the Hit Factory Live Christmas Cracker concert at the O2 arena in London in 2013
Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan perform at the Hit Factory Live Christmas Cracker concert at the O2 arena in London in 2013

"Reg was one of these legendary founders and Neighbours was one of the many products of his life's work.

"I was lucky to be a small part of his world. My thoughts go out to his family at this time."

Sydney native Grundy's shows were hits around the world and also included The Young Doctors and Prisoner: Cell Block H.

Two of his shows - Family Feud and the Prisoner remake Wentworth - picked up gongs at the Logie Awards in Melbourne on Sunday, an awards show celebrating the best of Australian television.

Grundy was also inducted into the Logies' Hall of Fame in 1993. He was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2008 for his outstanding contributions to the television industry and promotion of Australia overseas.

Neighbours' executive producer Jason Herbison said: "Everyone at Neighbours owes a huge debt to Reg Grundy. Quite simply, we wouldn't be here without him.

"He will be remembered as a pioneer of Australian television and a true gentleman. His legacy at Neighbours lives on and we hope to do him proud."

Stefan Dennis, who has starred in Neighbours since 1985, said "I was fortunate enough to cut my teeth on many of Reg's shows, e.g.Young Doctors and Prisoner, which eventually led to the role of Paul Robinson in what has become an international success story, Neighbours. I had the pleasure of being the on-screen nephew of Reg's lovely wife Joy."

Grundy's wife Joy Chambers starred as Dr Robyn Porter in The Young Doctors, and Rosemary Daniels in Neighbours, the long-running soap which last year celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Dennis added: "Hearing of the passing of Reg has genuinely rocked my world because not only was he my boss, but an inspiration, proving anything can be achieved if you believe in yourself. I will miss you Reg, and my heart goes out to the family, most particularly Joy, who will be devastated by the loss of her husband and best friend.

"Today sees the end of one of the true love stories in the entertainment industry."

Colette Mann, who stars as bartender Sheila Canning and played Doreen Burns in Prisoner: Cell Block H, said Grundy had supported her at a difficult time for women in the industry.

She said: " Basically I have Reg Grundy to thank for having a career. If it hadn't been for Prisoner, which was a benchmark in Australian television - Reg took the gamble at the time when women were not cast in strong roles.

"It was ground-breaking and I know I wouldn't be still doing what I love today if it wasn't for his vision."

The media mogul - who at one point had a home in Belgravia, London - founded Grundy Productions in 1959.

Grundy Worldwide was sold to the media conglomerate Pearson Plc for £175 million in April 1995, of which Grundy himself is believed to have received the vast bulk. It later became known as FremantleMedia Australia.

The current chief executive of FremantleMedia Australia, Ian Hogg, called him a "national treasure" and said his "innate understanding of great storytelling and entertainment lives on today".

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