The legendary TV executive Brian Walsh – who in a decades long career in radio, film and television was responsible for many of Australia’s biggest biggest entertainment exports – has died aged 68.
Walsh was the prime mover behind the TV series Neighbours’ global success and the launch of the careers of stars Kylie Minogue, Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.
Walsh, who was most recently an executive at Foxtel, was described by the company as ‘an iconic figure throughout Foxtel’s 28-year history and one of the most admired creative leaders in Australian television’.
After working at a young age in radio, Brian joined Network Ten where he launched major network events, including the acclaimed Kennedy Miller mini-series ‘Vietnam’, ‘The Bangkok Hilton’, and ‘The Dirtwater Dynasty’.
Most recently executive director of drama for the Foxtel Group, Walsh was due to attend the premiere of Season 2 of one of his latest shows, the award winning Binge series Love Me, next Thursday.
As the entertainment industry express its shock and sadness, tributes began pouring in, including a heartfelt message from Australian Hollywood star Guy Pearce who started his career on Neighbours.
Pearce tweeted that he was ‘utterly devastated at the news of losing my long time friend & mentor Brian Walsh.
‘Your compassion & support will never be forgotten mate, nor will ur guidance as we journeyed down Ramsay st & beyond. Love you Walshie. May you travel peacefully sweet friend. RIP xx’
Legendary TV executive Brian Walsh – the man behind the Neighbours TV series and the careers of Kylie Minogue, Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman – has died at the age of 68
Marta Dusseldorp speaks as Sam Neill and Brian Walsh look on during the cast announcement of Foxtel’s new original crime drama series ‘The Twelve’ in 2021
Brian is also credited with responsibility for the international success of the iconic Australian family drama series, ‘Neighbours’ and launching the careers of Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce.
Kyle and Jackie O reacted live on air to news of Walsh’s death with genuine shock and sadness.
Jackie O said: ‘Loved Brian. It’s a real shock…. He was very passionate. He was Foxtel.’
Kyle said: ‘Love to his family and friends and everyone at Foxtel. He was one of the nice television types.
‘That’s a shock to the system. When people you know die, it’s a shock to the system. We were close.’
On Channel 9 on Friday morning, Today Extra hosts David Campbell and Sylvia Jeffreys expressed their sadness while show biz reporter Richard Wilkins fought back tears.
Brian Walsh is responsible for the global success of the TV series and well as the international career of Kylie Minogue (above with Jason Donovan in Neighbours)
Walsh created the Simply The Best season launch for the National Rugby League which featured Tina Turner, and was also the creative force behind rugby league grand final and State of Origin Entertainment shows and events.
He also acted as the publicist for the Australian concert tours of megastars, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Neil Diamond, Ricky Martin and Barbra Streisand.
Two of Australia’s biggest stars Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman (above) can thank Brian Walsh in part for their international careers as actors
At Foxtel, he had creative control over Australian television series including Wentworth, Upright, Deadline Gallipoli, The Kettering Incident, The End and most recently the award-winning and globally distributed series Love Me, Colin from Accounts and The Twelve.
As tributes poured in for Walsh on Friday, commentator Prue MacSween described him as ‘larger than life, a king maker and a true showman … loyal, genuine and a huge loss’.
Lisa Wilkinson told 2GB it was Brian who was responsible for her early TV career as a contestant on the series Beauty and the Beast.
Brian Walsh (left) is seen along with broadcaster Alan Jones (second right) at the Requiem Mass for radio executive John Brennan at St Mary’s Cathedral in 2021
In a statement expressing the Foxtel Group’s profound sadness, CEO Patrick Delany said: ‘This is a very difficult day for the Foxtel Group family, for Australia’s creative community and the millions of Australians who watched and loved the stories that Brian bought to life through television.
‘Australia’s creative community has lost a much-loved figure in Brian. For us, the loss is heavily felt.
‘At the Foxtel Group, Brian was a long-time mentor, a confidant, a colleague and an unwavering friend to so many. Today, we are grieving Brian’s passing.
‘Our condolences go to his family and to those closest to him. We have lost an icon of Australian television that will never be replaced. Rest in peace, Brian.’
Brian Walsh died in Sydney on Thursday.