Inside the Brian Walsh Memorial: Tributes from Lachlan & Sarah, Nicole, Jason, Hugh & Deb

‘You single-handedly turned Neighbours into a national and then global success’

St Mary’s Cathedral was filled yesterday with family, friends and colleagues of Brian Walsh as a requiem mass was held to celebrate his life. Walsh died suddenly on March 16, 2023.

The celebrants at the Catholic service were Father Tom Stevens and Bishop Terry Brady.

Mourners filed into the church early and nearly 30 minutes before it began the only seats available were toward the rear of the cathedral with around 1,200 seated when formalities started.

Toward the start of the 90-minute service, the congregation heard eulogies from Brian Walsh’s sisters Jeanette Walsh, Maureen Walsh and Bernadette Cooper. They spoke lovingly about his early days and the traits that indicated he was heading for a career as a promoter.

Also speaking was his long-time best friend Shadow, Graham McNeice, who first crossed paths with Walsh at 2SM and then Channel 10 40 years ago.

Leading the mourners from News Corporation was chief executive Robert Thomson, Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch, and Michael Miller. Many others from the company were on hand including Penny Fowler, Lou Barrett, Peter Blunden, Paul Whittaker, Julian Delany, and longtime Sydney and New York editor Col Allan. Also former News Corp Australia chief John Hartigan and former editor and columnist Mark Day with wife and publicist Wendy Day.

Colleagues from Walsh’s 28 years at Foxtel filled many rows in the chapel and were led by chief executive Patrick Delany and chair Siobhan McKenna. Former Foxtel chief executives attending were Kim Williams, Peter Tonagh and Richard Freudenstein. Many other Foxtel colleagues were attending including Damian Cleary, Ross Crowley, Brendon Moo, Les Sampson, Jim Buchan, Fleur Fahey, Stephen Baldwin, Fraser Stark, Marshall Heald, Rhonda Dawson, Shaun James, Graham Burrells, Mark Furness, Emma Hogan, Kylie Merritt, Helen Dalley and Duane Hatherly.

Attending from Foxtel Media were Mark Frain and Daniella Serhan. Former MCN chief executive Anthony Fitzgerald was with partner Gemma Enright from QMS.

Colleagues who worked at The Promotions Department for Walsh included Paul Kind, Garry Farrar and Lisa Lane.

Broadcasters and TV producers were well-represented with Beverley McGarvey, Angela Bishop and Rick Maier from Paramount, Michael Healy, Adrian Swift, Peter Overton and wife Jessica Rowe, David Campbell, Richard Wilkins and Victoria Buchan from Nine, Bruce McWilliam, Angus Ross and Brook Hall from Seven, Scott Lorson from Fetch, Alison Hurbert-Burns from Binge, Chris Taylor from NBCU, Kylie Merritt from ausbiz, former BBC executives Tony Iffland, Julie Dowding and Jon Penn, producers including Mark Fennessy, David Mott, John Edwards, Ian Collie, Rob Gibson, Eddie McGuire, Jamie Durie, sports executives David Gallop, Peter Campbell and Saul Shtein, and SPA chief Matthew Deaner. Former Sony Music boss Denis Handlin made an appearance, as did Warner Music Australia chief Dan Rosen.

Comms practitioners saluting the best in the business including celebration co-ordinator Jamie Campbell, Foxtel’s Jacqui Abbott, former Seven comms leader Simon Francis, former Nine PR exec Heidi Virtue, Angela Alexander plus Foxtel publicity hall of famers Liz Hunter, Brooke Cashell, Aisha Jefcoate (still at Foxtel), Helen Johnson, Victoria Richards (still at Foxtel), Mikala Robertson, Jane McLaren, Kellie Adcock, Vanessa Hollins and Gabriella Faccini plus Melbourne based Jen Fitzpatrick and Dee Stewart.

Long-time Walsh friend and colleague Melissa Hoyer was also celebrating Walshie. She was an early Foxtel presenter alongside Hugh Jackman and the former fashion editor and nightlife reporter remains a busy TV and radio commentator. Current day weekend competing Sydney columnists Annette Sharp and Andrew Hornery too were acknowledging a bright light from the entertainment world.

Brian Walsh

Celebration of Brian Walsh

After the funeral service, close to 1,000 people made their way into Fox Studios (recently renamed Disney Studios) where a sound stage was converted into an entertainment space.

The list of speaker and entertainers in a 75-minute presentation were:

Deborah Hutton
Brian’s sisters Jeanette, Maureen and Bernadette
David Campbell
Andrew Ettingshausen
and Wayne Pearce
Ruva Ngenya
sang Simply the Best (She is about to star in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical)
Nicole Kidman (via video)
Carlotta, Matt Shirvington, Lana Greenhalgh, Paul Kind, Toby Borg, Lachlan
and Sarah Murdoch
Hugh Jackman
and Deborra-Lee Furness (via video)
Shubshri Kandiah
sang Smile (She stars shortly in Beauty and the Beast)
Angela Bishop
Peter Rix
Jason Donovan
Celia Ireland
and Susie Porter (from Wentworth)

Brian Walsh

Photo: Michele Mossop

Sharing memories of Brian Walsh

Just a short selection from some of the shared recollections.

Jason Donovan

The former Neighbours star recalled how he became concerned that Walsh was not replying to messages about a forthcoming dinner. “I couldn’t understand why you were not responding. I woke up two Fridays ago to the devastating news. A text from Guy Pearce saying he’d heard you passed. It was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life. I immediately rang Guy and we spoke about you in depth and the many memories that came flooding back. I had seen you at the opening of The Rocky Horror Show just a few weeks back and you had spent time huddled in a corner speaking with Guy at the AACTA Awards.

We spoke about our time back on Ramsay Street, about your energy, your passion, your communication skills, and impact you made not just on us as a cast, but the entire country.

“How you single-handedly turned Neighbours into a national success which then went onto screen right around the world.

“Without your determination and grit, Neighbours would not have become the phenomenon it was.”

Donovan recalled several stories about how he first met Walsh on a Sydney Harbour cruise with the Neighbours cast. He also recalled a promo trip to Perth, when Walsh tried to delay a Qantas flight back to the east coast so Jason and Kylie would make it back in time for work at Neighbours the following day.

Another trip was to Hawaii also with Jason and Kylie: “We were like a threesome…there’s an image!” [Laughs] He recalled how Kylie was speaking about her impending recording career.

“You were always so proud about the achievements of others.”

Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness

Jackman: “You are so dear to us. He was there in my early career when I first started out. Walshie was one of the few who believed in me when he really shouldn’t have! There was no evidence for it as far as I could see. He had a way of nurturing people, supporting people when no one else was. I’ll never forget him. Not only was he important for us in our careers. But that dwarfed how important he was to us as a friend.”

Furness: “He was there when our son was born and he was always so happy for all of our joys. He was so thrilled when Oscar was born, he came over and was part of the celebration and he watched him grow. His heart was so enormous – when I first started Adopt Change he was the first one to champion that. When my beautiful mother Fay Duncan had the Fight Cancer Foundation he was jumping in to help.

“He was always so passionate about being there. As recently as last year when I was in Australia he came again to support Adopt Change. He never stopped his support because his heart was so huge. He was a beautiful man and I am so sad at his loss and he not being with us.”

Jackman: “We miss you Walshie and we will always miss you. We will always be so grateful for your friendship. And he threw the best parties. I can’t tell you how many times I had to carry Deb out of one of those!

“I know wherever you are right now the best party is happening, the best entertainment is happening and I know you will be making someone else feel amazing about who they are because that is what you did. We love you Walshie and miss you mate.”

Furness: “Along with everyone else we celebrate your amazing life.”

Nicole Kidman

After speaking about how she first met Brian Walsh when she worked on the Kennedy-Miller mini-series Vietnam for Network 10, Kidman recalled how Walsh had accompanied her mother Janelle to the theatre only recently.

“It will never be the same without you Brian Walsh. We love you so much and we will do everything to carry your legacy forward.”


“To me, he was a friend and a great supporter of my work and my fight for acceptance. I first met Brian when he asked me to join Beauty and the Beast with the unforgettable Stan Zemanek.

“He guided me through many years of great fun and meeting beautiful friends I still cherish today. He supported me in Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical and then in Trevor Ashley’s Moulin Scrooge last year.

“Brian, thank you, fly with the angels, save a feather for me…as you know, Carlotta loves a feather.”

Matt Shirvington

“I feel like Walshie is in this room. This is his thing. I first met Walshie through Shadow as a teenager and his influence was immediate. He helped me get into the TV game after I retired. He took me to Sky News saying I would learn everything there. He got me to read the sport.

“I called him after my first read which was terrible (maybe I still am!). He said not worry that could all be fixed. He is a stickler for detail, he said that would be fine. But he added, ‘For fucks sake, can you learn to do a Windsor knot. [Holding his tie] I hope this is alright Walshie.

“I don’t know how he found the time. Everyone has spoken here today about his support being unwavering. It was unbelievable. He helped me so much.

“He always had an answer. If he didn’t, he would come back to you.

“He told me the road ahead comes down to three things. Family, career choice and the legacy you leave. ‘Process each of those Shirvo and then we have a platform to shape your journey and I’ll be with you every step of the way.’

“When you look at those three things – family, career choice and legacy – Walshie, you nailed it.”

brian walsh

Paul Kind

“I worked with Walshie at The Promotions Department for 10 years. Six years of that as his right-hand man. I first spoke to Walshie while I was still at university because I was desperate to work in sport and I knew he was the best. What I could never imagine at that time was the incredible life journey he would take me on. Despite not having worked in PR he gave me a job. He took off my training wheels and pushed me down a steep hill to see if I could ride. What I quickly realised as our working partnership grew that on the ride and I would never be alone. Walshie would always be there, supporting me, inspiring me and caring for me.

“We were so different you would never have guessed that we would work so well. He was the showman, the creative force, the networker, the genius. I took the magic in his ideas and the big pictures he always made and found a way to help make them a reality.

“I have so many incredible memories thanks to Walshie. But it is not the big events or the work rewards that I cherish most during our 30 years. What really mattered was his loving loyal friendship and the absolute certainty I have that if I needed him he would be there.

“The time owning The Promotions Department was the happiest of his life and I am so blessed we built a lifetime bond during that era.”

Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch

Lachlan: Like so many of us here we got to know Walshie first through work. But that relationship inevitably evolved into one that was a deep and enduring friendship. Walshie and I first met in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics. I got to know him best through the talent and his beautiful nature about a decade later when we worked out of a little office in George Street to launch Foxtel.

“It was then I got to see the skills he brought to his work, But more importantly also his beautiful nature and the warmth of his incredible character. It was that nature and character that fed a long and enduring friendship.”

Sarah: “Like it was for many of you here, it was through our friendship that Walshie really did become family. He cared deeply about all those he loved. As a godfather to our daughter Aerin he was extraordinary. She adored him. He would never miss a birthday or a Christmas. He always came to see her and he was an inspirational influence not only to us but to all our children.

Lachlan: Walshie, you’ve left an emptiness, a hole, in all of our lives. We miss you, we love you and we will always, always, remember you.”

See also:
Remembering Brian Walsh: Icon of the Australian entertainment industry
May the force be with you: Brian Walsh colleagues on working with the spirit of Foxtel

Listen to Brian Walsh with Andrew Mercado and James Manning on their podcast TV Gold. Follow the podcast for new episodes weekly.

Brian Walsh

To Top