“He had a capability to see drama within the extraordinary. That was his overriding philosophy for Neighbours, which on the time was towards the grain of tv soaps that had been so melodramatic and excessive. He elevated suburban life to drama that captivated thousands and thousands.”
Born in Queensland in 1926, after a quick profession as an actor Watson grew to become a tv govt within the UK within the Nineteen Fifties, working for the broadcaster ATV.
Throughout his tenure there Watson oversaw the creation of one in every of Britain’s most iconic cleaning soap operas, the Midlands-set Crossroads.
Returning to Australia, Watson grew to become head of drama at Reg Grundy Productions and oversaw the corporate’s prolific drama slate, together with The Younger Medical doctors (1976-1983), Glenview Excessive (1977), The Stressed Years (1977-1981), Prisoner (1979-1986), Sons and Daughters (1981-1987) and Neighbours (1985-present). He additionally oversaw the US adaptation of Prisoner: Harmful Girls.
Neighbours’ authentic producer John Holmes remembered an unassuming man who had no real interest in the “glitter and glamour” of showbiz, however essentially understood audiences “wished to establish with the characters they had been watching, that’s why Neighbours was so successful, individuals associated to what they had been seeing.”
Watson retired within the early Nineteen Nineties and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for providers to media in 2010.
However it was largely his inventive output that helped his boss Reg Grundy turn into a multi-millionaire, promoting his empire for $400 million, an enormous leap on the times when the BBC reportedly paying £25,000 per episode for the present within the mid-Eighties.
It had already been a precarious begin for the present in its homeland. Neighbours had initially been commissioned by the Seven Community, however the broadcaster, which had reportedly paid $7 million for the primary season, dropped it when it did not ship the numbers it was used to with comparable successes from A Nation Follow, and one in every of Watson’s different hits, Sons and Daughters.
“I bear in mind Reg calling me up when Seven axed Neighbours and telling me to not let any of the forged signal new contracts,” Holmes recalled. “He was assured a brand new community would choose it up.”
And they also did, with Ten securing Neighbours, and overseeing the arrival of Minogue into the forged, which through the years has additionally counted such worldwide luminaries as Russell Crowe, Natalie Imbruglia, Liam Hemsworth, Margot Robbie, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Delta Goodrem and Man Pearce.
Ten’s publicity director on the time Brian Walsh, now operating Foxtel, knew he needed to make a bang to get individuals speaking about Neighbours, which was off to a sluggish begin on Ten.
“Reg was a genius who understood publicity. He instructed me to establish the expertise that might assist drive the present, clearly that was Jason and Kylie.
“I nonetheless bear in mind a storyline about them having a romantic rendezvous in a motel, it was so scandalous it made the entrance web page of the Sydney papers … on the time Neighbours was doing a lot better in Melbourne than Sydney, however after that, all of it modified.
“The hysteria round these sizzling younger stars was unimaginable, we’d go to buying centres with them, and it was like Beatlemania,” Walsh recollects.
The BBC ultimately misplaced Neighbours when rival Channel 5 – hungry for its enormous viewers – secured the 10-year rights to display screen the present for almost 300 million kilos in 2007.
It was a deal that might assure the present for an additional decade, and for the kind of cash tv executives as we speak may solely ever dream of.