The legendary Australian TV producer and screenwriter Reg Watson passed away last week, at the age of 93. To note his passing and celebrate his achievements, ILYOS presents the theme music to some of his most loved creations.
His name may not have been as famous as that of the man he often worked for, Reg Grundy, but Australian television producer and screenwriter Reg Watson, who passed away October 8, was as much a pioneer as his boss, and was the man responsible for creating some of Australia's most loved series, including Neighbours.
His passing was announced by the current producers of Neighbours on Twitter on Saturday night. Kylie Minogue, who of course owes so much to her role in Neighbours, also paid tribute to Watson via Twitter:
"What a legacy Reg Watson leaves. For me, and millions of others, Neighbours impacted our lives. My thoughts and best wishes to his family and friends."
Born in Queensland, Watson actually got his start in TV in the UK, having moved there in 1955 to further his on-air career in radio. Working for ATV, he created the program Crossroads, which soon had an audience of 15 million. Such was the impact of Watson and Crossroads that when a character in the series was left paralyzed after a car accident, Watson convinced ATV to donate substantial funds to set up a UK carers support fund which still operates, some 45 years later.
Watson came back to Australia in 1973 and took up the post of head of drama at Reg Grundy Productions. His first major success was The Young Doctors, which started in 1976.
The list of Watson's greatest success reads like a roll call of iconic Australian soap. And while The Young Doctors may not have had the most inspiring theme music – having pop star Mark Holden starring in the show was a wasted opportunity - Watson got Renee Geyer to sing Mike Perjanik's theme for The Restless Years in 1977, and the track was a Top 40 hit.
From then on, he didn’t forget the power of a catchy song to help sell a TV show. The theme to the massively popular Prisoner was "On The Inside", which was written by Allan Caswell and sung by Lynn Hamilton. It was a top 5 hit in Australia in 1979, and actually reached #3 in the UK ten years later, after the show belatedly took off there. Kerri Biddell & Mick Leyton's "Sons and Daughters", written by Peter Pinne & Don Battye, wasn't quite as successful – it peaked at #68 in the UK in 1984. Barry Croker's recording of Tony Hatch & Jackie Trent's Neighbours theme fared even worse chart-wise, but its pervasive influence over the last 35 years is undeniable; indeed it has been voted the world's most recognised television theme song.
Reg Watson's impact continues to be felt, at home, and internationally, with the continued success of Neighbours, and in the contemporary reworking of Prisoner, titled Wentworth, which has emulated the success of the original.
The Young Doctors (1976)
The Restless Years (Sung by Renee Geyer, 1977)
Prisoner ("On The Inside", sung by Lynn Hamilton, 1979)
Sons And Daughters (Sung by Kerri Biddell and Mick Leyton, 1982)
Neighbours (Sung by Barry Crocker, 1985)