IF EVER a man deserves the title of industry icon, it is Reginald Roy Grundy AC OBE, winner of the 2010 C21Media/FRAPA Format Awards Gold Medal.
The king of Australian game shows exploded on to the small screen in 1959, when his radio show Wheel of Fortune, was adopted for television. In 1960, he launched the Grundy Organisation, which went on to give the world such classic brands as Sale of The Century, Going For Gold, Family Feud, Scrabble, Hot Streak and I’ve Got A Secret. He also developed the hit dramas Neighbours, Prisoner, The Young Doctors, The Restless Years and Sons & Daughters. As veteran producer Alan Boyd, who has worked Grundy down the years, observes, his list of credits “reads like a worldwide timeline of popular entertainment”.
“Reg is a huge charismatic presence who has dominated our industry for the last half century,” said Ute Biernat, FRAPA chairman and CEO of Grundy Light Entertainment. “Quite rightly, he has won every award in the world, so the fact that he was happy to accept the 2010 Gold Medal really meant a lot to us. He has given FRAPA and our mission real credibility.”
“I felt honoured that FRAPA thought of me,” said Grundy, who is famously private and rarely featured in interviews. “FRAPA is very necessary as a mediator and makes a great contribution to the industry.”
With typical modesty, Grundy downplays his success when asked how, in a world where devising one hit show is considered a major achievement, he has succeeded in creating so many game-changing formats. “I suppose I was a pioneer,” he said. “But it was a different time and I simply did what I loved to do.”
As to where formats are headed next, he said: “It’s hard to forecast, but I’d like to think that ‘reality’ shows will become less scripted.”
Grundy said he is proud of all his formats: “But I must say that the one that still delights me is Questions Pour Un Champion, which I devised along with Bob Noah in Los Angeles over 20 years ago and which is still running in France.” The format, inspired by Going For Gold, has been on air in France since 1988, where it remains hugely popular.
According to Biernat, Grundy — who turns 88 this year — continues to come up with format blueprints. “He’s a creative machine,” she said. “He has one great idea after another. You just can’t stop him…”
So what advice does Australia’s one-man entertainment factory have for the next generation of format creatives? “Don’t give up,” he replied. “Keep coming up with ideas. As I have always said, ‘Keep throwing punches and you’re bound to hit something’.”