Australian TV pioneer Brian Walsh, credited with launching several Australian stars’ Hollywood careers, dies in Sydney

One of Foxtel’s most senior management team members, who is credited for launching the career of a number of Australian stars, has died.

Foxtel Group confirmed the shock death of Brian Walsh with CEO Patrick Delany saying it was a “difficult day” for the Australian media and those in the creative industry.

The subscription television company’s boss described Walshy, as he is affectionately known, as an “icon” of television who can “never be replaced”.

“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 brought to life through television,” he said in a statement.

“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. Our condolences go to his family and to those closest to him. Rest in peace Brian.”

Mr Walsh, who is the longest-serving member of the subscription TV management team since it was formed back in 1995, started his career at the ABC before moving into feature film production and promotions and publicity at Sydney radio station 2SM.

He then shifted to Network Ten where he was part of launching major network events. The television icon is also credited for launching one of Australia’s most famous soaps, Neighbours, helping launch the careers of Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce.

The English-born Australian actor took to Twitter saying he was “utterly devastated” at the news of the death of a “long time friend and mentor”.

“Your compassion & support will never be forgotten mate, nor will ur (sic) guidance as we journeyed down Ramsay St & beyond,” he wrote.

Love you Walshie. May you travel peacefully sweet friend. RIP xx.”

Other stars who rose to fame under Mr Walsh’s guidance include Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

At Foxtel, Mr Walsh oversaw all original productions, including some of Australia’s best quality, most loved television series 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.

Mr Walsh also played a major role in the campaign of the famous using Tina Turner’s hit song Simply The Best for the NRL season luanch, as well as being part of the marketing and publicity team of the Grand Final and State of Origin entertainment.

Other achievements include being the publicist for some of the most famous concerts that toured Down Under throughout the decades, including Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Neil Diamond, Ricky Martin and Barbara Streisand. 

He was also an executive director for television over two decorated decades.

Mr Walsh signed a new contract back in June to focus on local content and spearhead the Foxtel Original drama division, saying he was “excited for what the future holds”.

“I am an entrepreneur at heart and will detail my broader business plans in due course,” he said.

“For now thought, the key focus will continue to be Foxtel and delivering what I believe will be our strongest slate ever, of compelling Australian drama and entertainment.”

Entertainment industry stars have been left shocked by the passing of Mr Walsh.

Radio hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O, who often had the Foxtel executive on their show to ask about upcoming television shows, were saddened by the news.

“Loved Brian. It’s a real shock… he was very passionate. He was Foxtel,” Jackie O told her KIIS FM listeners on Friday morning.

“That’s a shock to the system. When people you know, its a shock to the system. We were close,” Sandilands said, adding he was “one of the nice television types”.

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