Producer Michael Shrimpton, best known for co-creating Countdown, has died.
He died on Thursday night after losing his battle with cancer.
As head of light entertainment at the ABC, Shrimpton created Countdown with Molly Meldrum and Robbie Weekes. It ran from 1974 to 1987, and remains Australia’s most loved music programme.
He moved to Sydney and became the head of Arts and Entertainment at the ABC from 1981 to 1988 and then again from 1995 to 1998, overseeing everything from rock and pop to opera, ballet and symphony performances.
“There wouldn’t have been a Countdown without Michael Shrimpton,” Molly Meldrum told News Corp.
“He was the driving force behind Countdown.”
A meeting at South Yarra’s Botanical Hotel in which Meldrum agreed to join Shrimpton for Countdown was recreated for the Seven miniseries Molly, with actor Tom O’Sullivan.
Shrimpton also produced New Wave, The Sentimental Bloke and The Simon Gallaher Show.
In 2011 he wrote to The Australian objecting to Arts cuts at the ABC by Mark Scott:
“I welcome the recent announcement that, finally, another agreement has been reached with Opera Australia. Where would the world of opera be now but for the efforts of ABC directors in producing the Joan Sutherland archive?
“I list these things to illustrate “presence”. It was clear and clearly ABC. I’m wondering if there is a clear understanding of the remit that is public service broadcasting. It’s about the service, stupid.”