Aussie TV legend passes away

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The Australian TV scene is mourning the death of Towards 2000 star Jeff Watson aged 80, following the news he lost his battle to brain cancer last Wednesday.

The veteran journalist was surrounded by his wife Judi, children Timothy and Lucy, stepdaughter Cara and her husband Ben when he passed away peacefully at Greenwich Palliative Care Hospital, Nine reports.

After his diagnosis in 2018, Watson was only given three months to live but exceeded doctors’ expectations by five years, spending what was left of his life on Sydney’s northern beaches.

The popular TV presenter spent more than 40 years working in the media industry and was well-known for his role in ABC science program Towards 2000.

The series ran for three seasons and was a global success, with just short of 100 countries airing the show.

His impressive resume also included roles at ABC’s This Day Tonight and Four Corners, Beyond 2000 which aired on channels seven and 10, and 60 minutes.

Jeff Watson has passed away aged 80. Picture: Channel 9 / GetawayJeff Watson has passed away aged 80. Picture: Channel 9 / Getaway

Watson was also the original presenter of Channel Nine travel series Getaway from 1992 to 1998, with his passion for travel extending beyond the screen as an avid aviator.

He flew 23,000 km from England to Australia with John Travolta while producing the program Southend to Sydney in addition to a number of other small jet trips around the world.

Other shows Watson produced included two aviation programs The Boneyard and The Shape Of Things To Come as well as a number of documentaries including Spitfire Over Australia, Classic Aeroplanes in Australia and the RAAF 70th Anniversary which aired across a number of networks.

Tributes are now flowing for the much-loved TV star, beginning with his family who are remembering him for his comedic nature and groundbreaking work.

“His humour and stories will be missed by all,” they said in a statement.

Meanwhile Beyond 2000 producer Carmel Travers said Watson – or Watto as she called him – was a “one-off”.

“His humour, his steadfast loyalty to friends, his love for the long lunch, his passion for anything that flew from the shuttle to the Concorde to biplanes and spy planes, Watto had an encyclopaedic knowledge of it all,” she said.

“Watto will be much missed by his friends and colleagues, and there’ll never be another quite like him. The mould is broken.”

Getaway host Catriona Rowntree has also labelled the news as “heartbreaking”, saying in a statement that Watson was a “joy” to be around.

“Jeff had the best bloopers ever! Jeff always spoke of his love for his family, I know their hearts will be hurting and we are sending all our love to them,” she said in a statement.

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Fans and other fellow colleagues also praised Watson online, with broadcaster and columnist Phillip Adams remembering him as a “major figure in the history of the ABC”.

A service will be held in Mona Vale on Sydney’s Northern Beaches on Thursday to farewell the TV icon.

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