Watson passed away peacefully at a NSW palliative care hospital last week, surrounded by his wife Judi and children Timothy, Lucy and Cara, TV Tonight reports.
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Watson was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2018 and was told he had three months to live but continued to enjoy an active life with his family and friends for another five years.
Fellow presenter Catriona Rowntree said news of Watson’s death was “heartbreaking”.
“As both a colleague and friend Jeff was a joy to be with,” she told TV Tonight.
“You can imagine how interesting he was after so many world travels, above all though he was just so cheeky and fun-loving.”
Rowntree added that Watson had “the best bloopers ever”.
“Jeff always spoke of his love for his family,” she added.
“I know their hearts will be hurting and we are sending all our love to them.”
Getaway executive producer John Walsh also paid tribute to Watson, saying he was “fundamental” to the launch of the program back in 1992.
“As one of the original presenters on the show he brought a world of experience to the on-air team and had the rare knack of being incredibly funny one minute and projecting authority and gravitas the next,” Walsh said.
“Audiences really responded to him and there’s no doubt he played a big role in the show’s early success.
“He was a real one-of-a kind and will be missed.”
Watson presented for Getaway between 1992 and 1998 and also hosted the popular science and technology show Beyond 2000.
His long and diverse career included work as a producer for Channel Seven and the History Channel, presenter of ABC radio program Traveller’s Tales, and an aviation reporter for television.
He was a keen aviator, once flying 23,000km from England to Australia with John Travolta in a 50-year-old jet airliner for the show Southend to Sydney.
Beyond 2000 producer Carmel Travers called Watson a “one-off”.
“His humour, his steadfast loyalty to friends, his love for the long lunch, his passion for anything that flew from the shuttle to the Concorde to biplanes and spy planes, Watto had an encyclopaedic knowledge of it all,” she said.
“Watto will be much missed by his friends and colleagues, and there’ll never be another quite like him.
“The mould is broken.”
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