‘Beyond 2000’ and ‘Getaway’ host Jeff Watson dies, age 80

Mar 02, 2023
Watson's career spanned decades, during which he excelled as a broadcaster, journalist, author, and documentary producer. Source: Getty Images.

Veteran Australian television presenter Jeff Watson, who became a familiar face on popular programs such as Getaway and Beyond 2000, has passed away at the age of 80.

Watson died on Wednesday, March 1 at Greenwich Palliative Care Hospital surrounded by his family after he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2018.

With more than four decades in the industry, Watson had an impressive career as a broadcaster, journalist, author, and documentary producer.

He was the creator and presenter of the science program, Towards 2000 which aired on ABC from 1981 to 1984, alongside Sonia Humphrey and David Flatman.

Watson also presented Beyond 2000 which achieved considerable global success and was broadcast on Seven and 10, reaching audiences in the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia, and New Zealand, even inspiring a US adaptation. In total, 14 series of  Towards 2000 and Beyond 2000 were produced, with the last episode being created in 1999.

In addition to his work on Towards 2000 and Beyond 2000, Watson contributed to various programs such as This Day Tonight, Four Corners, Holiday, 60 Minutes, and was one of the original presenters on Getaway from 1992 to 1998.

Watson’s also had a passion for aviation, he flew a 50-year-old jet airliner from England to Australia with John Travolta, covering a distance of 23,000 km, to create the program Southend to Sydney. He also produced two aviation programs for Seven and The History Channel. 

He served as executive producer of The World Tonight with Clive Robertson and presented a weekly segment on classic cars called My Car which later became the documentary Classic Cars in Australia. By 2001, he served as the motoring and aviation editor of the Today show.

Watson also presented the ABC radio program Travellers Tales for five years and authored or co-wrote books such as Heads I Win, The Last Plane out of Berlin, and The Best of Travellers Tales.

He served as a Trustee of the Powerhouse Museum for two years, was an Australia Day Ambassador, and became an honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Fellow Getaway host, Catriona Rowntree led the tributes for Watson revealing to TV Tonight that his death “is heartbreaking news”.

“As both a colleague and friend Jeff was a joy to be with. You can imagine how interesting he was after so many world travels, above all though he was just so cheeky and fun loving,” she said.

“Jeff had the best bloopers ever! Jeff always spoke of his love for his family, I know their hearts will be hurting and we are sending all our love to them.”

As news of Watson’s passing broke, fans joined Rowntree in paying tribute to the late television presenter while remembering some of their favourite moments from his career.

Watson is survived by his wife Judi, children Timothy and Lucy and stepdaughter Cara.

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