Former Nine Newsreader Brian Naylor has been confirmed dead in Victorian bushfires.
Naylor, 78, perished in the fires that ravaged Victoria on the weekend. His beloved wife Moiree also died.
The Naylors had been residents at a property in Coombs Road, on the western edge of the Kinglake National Park, for many years. Kinglake was one of several towns razed in the infernos which have claimed over 180 deaths.
Naylor, who retired from Nine News in 1998, reached the pinnacle of newsreading during his many years at both Channels Nine and Seven.
Anchoring National Nine News in Melbourne for twenty years Naylor’s popularity was so crucial to Nine’s crushing evening shares, his contract with Kerry Packer spearheaded a transformation of salaries for newsreaders across Australia.
His signature sign-off, “May your news be good news and goodnight,” is well remembered as well as his association with the network campaign, “Brian told me.”
He began his career in 1956 as a radio announcer. In 1958 Naylor he joined Seven Melbourne hosting a children’s programme Brian and the Juniors. Running until 1969, it provided a stepping stone for performers such as Debbie Byrne, Rod Kirkham, Jane Scali, Peter Doyle, Patti McGrath, Anne Watt, Vikki Broughton and Jamie Redfern.
He became Seven’s chief newsreader in 1970 and switched to Nine in 1978.
Naylor also hosted Carols By Candlelight for ten years before it was assumed by Ray Martin, and a series of specials featuring his other love, sailing.
He was also an active worker for many charities and stayed connected with Nine with stints in media training.
Naylor was also a recipient of the Victorian ‘Father of the Year’ Award. Last year his son Matt, 40, died in a light plane accident.
Naylor oversaw many stories during his time at Nine and Seven. During the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983 Naylor reported on the disaster from Kinglake…
Tonight reporting from Whittlesea, newsreader Peter Hitchener, who succeeded Naylor, and Tony Jones spoke of Naylor’s devotion to his family and his success as a leading news presenter.
Michael Venus, director of news at Channel Nine in Melbourne, said, “Brian Naylor was the consummate professional – he’s the best I’ve ever seen and I doubt in my lifetime if I’ll ever see anyone better.”
Former Nine news director John Sorrell said of Naylor and his wife, “They are the sort of people who might have even died in each other’s arms – as silly as it sounds.”
“When they looked at each other, there was light in their eyes. They were very much in love.”
Naylor’s friend, TEN Network Melbourne newsreader Mal Walden, praised his former colleague and rival.
“He was the best communicator of the lot – a born communicator. That’s why he rose so far. We were good friends despite the fact we were competitors,” he told The Age.
Veteran performer Peter Smith said, “We grew up together really, he remembered this morning. “My wife Jackie and Moiree were also very close. It’s just devastating.
“Brian was such an old friend and we went back before the Nine days. They were the pioneering days of TV. Anyone working in radio in those days was required to do the same thing on TV when it started.
“The people of Victoria knew him so well too. He had that ability to reach people and they felt that they knew him.
“He was a very natural talent – he had that ability to speak to people through the TV like he was talking to you in person.
The Nine Network has also expressed its deepest condolences to the Naylor family.
“Brian was a true gentleman, inspirational leader and devoted family man and all of us at Nine, as will so many Victorians, mourn his loss,” said Jeffrey Browne, Managing Director of GTV9 Melbourne.
“Our thoughts are with all the victims and their families who have lost their lives, loved ones and homes as a result of this horrendous tragedy.”