REG GRUNDY TIMELINE (1959-1972)
The rise of television saw Reg leave radio in early 1959. Taking a chance, Reg called TCN 9 Sydney (now the Nine Network) Chief Executive Ken G. Hall, who he knew from his time as a sports broadcaster, and pitched Wheel of Fortune as a television show.
WHEEL OF FORTUNE began broadcasting on TCN 9 on 1 September 1959, with Reg not only hosting but working behind the scenes to secure prizes, write the questions, get the contestants and liaise with the station.
It was during the initial 13-week trial contract with TCN 9 for WHEEL OF FORTUNE that Reg founded Reg Grundy Enterprises.
Reg Grundy hosting WHEEL OF FORTUNE on TCN 9.
Philip Brady and contestants on CONCENTRATION.
After only a few months running WHEEL OF FORTUNE, Reg was invited by TCN 9 Programmer Bruce Gyngell to look through the ‘bond’ – a warehouse where TCN 9 could watch new shows from the US without having to pay the duty. It was during his first visit to the bond that Reg discovered American game show producer Bob Noah’s CONCENTRATION.
TCN 9 picked it up immediately, and by the end of 1960 Reg was producing three successful game shows: WHEEL OF FORTUNE, CONCENTRATION (hosted by Philip Brady) and another Bob Noah adaptation, TIC, TAC, DOUGH (hosted by Chuck Faulkner).
1960 also saw Australia’s Broadcasting Control Board introduce the first content quotas. They regulated that 40% of all programs needed to be locally made, with four hours in prime time every month. With no national television networks at the time, this left a lot of independent stations in need of low-cost, local product. Reg was more than happy to oblige.
Reg stepped down as host of WHEEL OF FORTUNE in 1962, handing over hosting duties to Walter Elliott. Reg would not host another game show again.
Although Reg would never host another game show again, he would go on to produce many more including SAY WHEN, which first aired in 1962. Hosted by Jimmy Hannan, SAY WHEN was adapted from Mark Goodson’s successful US version. After being cancelled in 1964, the show was revived by Nine Network as SPENDING SPREE and ran from 1971 to 1976.
Jimmy Hannan with contestants on SAY WHEN.
Reg Grundy and unknown on set at TCN 9 Sydney.
By 1963, Reg Grundy Enterprises was producing 21 episodes across four shows a week. This included locally produced versions of CONCENTRATION in Melbourne on GTV9 and Brisbane on QTQ9 (both of which would later go on to become part of Nine Network). These locally produced shows saw the production team go interstate every second Friday to record ten shows over the weekend before being back in Sydney on Monday.
Reg’s approach to producing and packaging local versions of a show was ground-breaking for the time and paved the way for Grundy Worldwide to become the first, and one of the biggest, independent production companies in the world.
In 1964, TCN 9 Sydney dropped all four Reg Grundy Enterprises shows.
Not to be deterred, Reg contacted Brisbane’s QTQ and moved production of CONCENTRATION to Queensland, making QTQ the first station outside of Sydney and Melbourne to produce a national daily program.
Less than a year later, Reg Grundy Enterprises would also go on to produce the Logie Award-winning panel game show I’VE GOT A SECRET for QTQ9. It was during casting for I’VE GOT A SECRET that Reg met his future wife Joy Chambers.
Reg Grundy with Philip Brady, Terry Dear, Joy Chambers and Ron Cadee on the set of EVERYBODY’S TALKING.
Reg Grundy disembarking an early international flight.
In August 1966, Reg made his first trip to New York. He stayed at the Hilton Hotel, where he spent much of his trip getting up close and personal with American game shows by watching them on the colour TV in his hotel room (colour TV wasn’t introduced in Australia until 1975).
This was something that Reg would do many more times. He would fly to America, watch game shows in his hotel room, make audio recordings and take photos, and then bring them back home and pitch the shows to the Australian networks.
Buying and adapting shows worldwide is now commonplace, however in the 60’s Reg was one of just a few people doing it, leading him to become known in Australia as ‘the man on the spot when it came to American game shows’ (Reg Grundy, Murdoch Books 2010).
TEMPTATION, Reg’s adaptation of America’s SALE OF THE CENTURY, first aired on the Seven Network. Hosted by Tony Barber, the show was a hit and spawned a night-time version, GREAT TEMPTATION, in 1971. Both shows ran until 1974.
In 1980, the Nine Network rebooted GREAT TEMPTATION, reverting to the original name SALE OF THE CENTURY. The show ran on and off under several different names until 2009, becoming the longest running game show in the history of Australian television (running for a combined 30 years).
Contestants on the set of the original GREAT TEMPTATION.
Bert Newton presents Reg Grundy a Logie in the mid-1970’s.
Reg Grundy Enterprises were now producing more television shows than anyone else in Australia, making 156 half hours and 23 one hours, with 13 shows running on 41 of the 48 stations in the country (TV Week, 17 June 1972).