• Tim Worner: “Bradley had a superb instinct for great stories”
• Lyons and other TV execs from the West changed the face of TV
Seven West Media is mourning the passing of former Seven Network executive Brad Lyons.
Lyons had been battling cancer in recent years after departing Seven in 2017. In over 25 years at Seven his list of achievements is long.
In those years he worked as director of production, head of Seven Studios, Melbourne programming manager, head of development and head of infotainment. He also worked at Beyond Productions for six years as a producer on Beyond 2000 and then a development executive.
Lyons was one of a talented group of TV executives that came out of Perth and went on to develop the Australian TV business into what many have called the best in the world. Others who made that journey from Perth to the east coast included great mates and Seven colleagues Tim Worner and Simon Reeve, 10 and ITV’s David Mott and Nine’s Michael Healy.
James Warburton, Seven West Media managing director and chief executive officer, who worked with Lyons during Warburton’s first tour of duty at Seven, said: “On behalf of all of us at SWM, we were devastated to learn of Brad’s passing. Brad was an instrumental creative force at Seven for two decades. He saw the launch of over 25 titles in his time, including iconic shows such as Dancing with the Stars, My Kitchen Rules, Deal or No Deal, House Rules and The Chase Australia.
“We will all miss his energy and passion, which we were so lucky to experience. Brad was a second-to-none creative mind, and we were so fortunate to have a had chance to work with him and get to know him for the truly incredible person he was.
“Our thoughts are with Brad’s wife, Debbie, his three daughters, and all of his family and friends at this time.”
Long-time friend and colleague, and former Seven and Beyond workmate Tim Worner, told Mediaweek this morning:
“We met as teenagers in Perth and then worked together for a long time at 7NEWS Perth and then in Sydney at Beyond and Seven for a long time after that.
“Bradley had a superb instinct for great stories and an even better one for telling them and that was very clear from very early on. He took that gift and turned it into a brilliant career as a reporter, producer and executive. There was no better show maker and no way that a rough cut wasn’t coming out the other side of his screening so much better – often with feedback that was unfailingly frank, but always spot on. So many of his ideas still have life on networks all around the world. As a teammate, he was so spirited and proud and often loud. He loved to laugh and those around him did a lot of it as well, he made sure of that. But he reserved the most pride and love for Deb and his girls. They lit him up like nothing else.”
Another long-time Seven colleague was director of programming Angus Ross. The two had adjoining offices on Seven’s executive floor and were a crucial part of Seven’s many years as market leader this century. Ross told Mediaweek how Lyon played hard, and was proud of the formats the network created and screened.
“Brad was in a big customs line-up at Nice airport going to Cannes when he spotted Andrew Backwell [then working for Nine and now at Seven] and gave him a massive expletive-laden serve about Hot Plate ripping off MKR. Little did Brad realise that the queue was so long they had to awkwardly pass each other about another 10 times before getting through!”
Other Seven colleagues remembering Lyons over the weekend included Sonia Kruger “Gone far too soon”, Tom Williams “gave me so many incredible opportunities”, Jim Wilson “So happy I got see Brad a few weeks ago…wonderful sense of humour”, Johanna Griggs “You were always so fair to deal with and had a wicked sense of humour”, while Simon Reeve said “Bradley lit the sky, took no prisoners and leaves an aching, empty space in our lives”.
Speaking to Mediaweek during many interviews we had, and even one podcast we managed to lure him to, Lyons was always passionate about Seven and its work:
“Local content is working best and subsequently we have increased the number of hours,” Seven’s head of production Brad Lyons told Mediaweek a decade ago.
When Seven had a hit show it is not afraid to ramp up the numbers of hours – that’s happened this year for My Kitchen Rules, Australia’s Got Talent and The X Factor. Lyons added: “Good ideas are hard to find and we work hard at refreshing those ideas and adding new elements, concentrating heavily on casting. We need to be able to create noise when a show returns. Gone are the days where you can wheel out another series without having a good look at it.”
The ratings seem to indicate that simple is best when it comes to reality formats. “The best ideas are simple ideas. If they are complicated to explain you are putting up a barrier you don’t need. However there is an expectation many of these shows will have to change again. We can’t keep cranking out similar reality shows and we will need to think about different ways to tell the story.”
Lyons said he didn’t have any favourites in the schedule. “When we push a ship down the slipway we are all on board. There is no finger-pointing…although there might be in the bar later on!”