Reg Grundy, Australian TV pioneer who developed hit series Neighbours, dies

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian media mogul Reg Grundy, a game show pioneer who also developed television hits including Neighbours, Sons and Daughters and Prisoner, has died aged 92, it was announced Monday.

"Reg Grundy has passed away in the arms of his beloved wife Joy, on their Bermuda estate," radio personality Alan Jones, a long-time friend, said on his morning programme.

"So ends a remarkable chapter of a great Australian." Reports said he had been in ailing health in recent years, although no cause of death was immediately given.

Grundy founded one of Australia's first entertainment groups - the Reg Grundy Organisation - and was widely regarded as the king of the game show, as well as producing a host of very successful soap operas.

After serving in the army during World War II, he worked as a boxing and general sports commentator on radio before devising and hosting the Wheel of Fortune, which he moved to television in 1959.

A year later he founded his entertainment group and began producing game shows for the Australian and overseas markets, including Sale of the Century and Blankety Blanks.

Grundy also developed a series of hit drama series, including Neighbours, Prisoner, Young Doctors and Sons and Daughters, as well as Abba: The Movie in 1977.

At his peak, he became so entrenched in Australian folklore that it was common in the 1980s and 1990s for Australians to refer to their underwear as "Reggies" or "Grundies", rhyming slang for "undies".

Grundy, who was awarded an OBE in the 1983 Queen's New Year's Honours List and made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2008, sold his company in 1995 to Pearson Television, which is now known as FremantleMedia.

He lived for years in Bermuda and is survived by wife Joy and daughter Kim, from a previous marriage.