Brian Walsh Dies: Popular Australian TV Exec Behind ‘Neighbours’ Success And Mentor To Guy Pearce Was 68

Brian Walsh speaks during the 2020 AACTA Awards in 2020
Brian Walsh speaks during the 2020 AACTA Awards in 2020 Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for AFI

Brian Walsh, the popular Australian TV and film executive credited with a key role in Neighbours‘ global success, died unexpectedly Thursday in Sydney. He was 68.

An outpouring of sadness has come from Australian media industry following the death of Walsh, who was mentor to stars such as Guy Pearce and helped launch the careers of Nicole Kidman and Kylie Minogue.

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Australian network Foxtel, where Walsh most recently worked, confirmed the news.

Pearce wrote on Twitter he was “utterly devastated” at the loss of his “long time friend and mentor,” while the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts called him “one of Australia’s most distinguished television producers.”

Many of industry figures in Australia and further afield took to Twitter to recognize the influence of the exec, who was a familiar face at events such as the LA Screenings and Mipcom.

Walsh’s 28-year career began at Australian public service network the ABC before he feature film production and distribution at Palm Beach Pictures and promotions and publicity at Sydney Radio Station 2SM. He then moved to Ten Network, where he launched TV events such as Vietnam, The Bangkok Hilton and The Dirtwater Dynasty and oversaw Neighbours, which launched the careers on Pearce, Minogue and many others.

He worked on many other major Australian TV staples such as the entertainment shows accompanying the Australian rules football State of Origin match and was the publicist for the largest Australian international concert tours by Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Neil Diamond, Ricky Martin and Barbra Streisand among others.

In 1995, he helped launch Foxtel, the Rupert Murdoch-backed pay-TV broadcaster that came to dominate the subscription market in Australia. He led on all scripted and unscripted commissions for the Foxtel Group and was behind shows such as Wentworth, Upright, Deadline Gallipoli, The Kettering Incident and The End and more recently Love Me, Colin From Accounts and The Twelve.

“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,” said Foxtel Group CEO Patrick Delany. “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.”

Australian showbiz reporter Peter Ford said the news had “knocked a lot of us for six” while appearing on The Morning Show on Seven Network and called him a “titan of the industry.” (Skip to 2 mins 45 in the clip below for his full reaction). “He was the man who really got the mania going for Kylie and Jason [Donovan]” in Neighbours, he added.

The actress Deborra-Lee Furness said she and husband Hugh Jackman were “devastated” to hear of Walsh’s passing. “For over 30 years, we have shared our lives professionally and personally,” she added.

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