Sea Patrol: articles

Production costs sink popular Queensland-based Ch9 drama Sea Patrol

SEA Patrol - the only Queensland-made adult drama TV series on air - has been sunk by production costs.

The fifth season, which is currently being filmed in Mission Beach in far north Queensland before moving to the Gold Coast next month, will be its last.

The Nine Network commissioned 13 episodes for series five, down from 16 this year, which takes its total run to 68 episodes. A production tax rebate for local dramas expires after episode 65.

Nine said yesterday it would not be commissioning the HMAS Hammersley and its crew, including Lisa McCune, Ian Stenlake, Conrad Coleby, Kristian Schmid and Tammy McIntosh, for a sixth series.

"Sea Patrol will go out on a high of consistently good ratings and with a loyal audience, but it is too expensive to produce without the government assistance (even with huge overseas sales)," a Nine source said.

Series creators and producers Hal and Di McElroy said they knew it would be tough to continue the show past when the tax offset cut out.

"But of course we love the show," they told fans through the website. "We're all proud of it and as optimists we want it to last forever. But all good things come to an end. So boy, are we going to go out on a high."

Clint Rolfe, who established in January 2007, six months before the series first aired, yesterday said Nine's timing on its decision gave the producers limited chance to prepare.

"Nine held out a little too long to tell them this," he said. "Rather than say while they were writing season five, 'This is your last season, take it out with a bang'. I don't think Hal and Di will now have the chance to go back and write a fitting end that all fans want."

The website, with 3888 registered members, is arguably the most successful individual TV show fan site in Australia. In the last month Sea Patrol was on air, it recorded 6 million hits - 86,000 being unique.

A petition has been established on the site to try to convince Nine to change its mind.

Sea Patrol averaged a healthy 1.2 million viewers nationally this year. It has been on-sold to more than 100 territories. Season five will air on Nine next year.

The cancellation will have less impact on McCune, who is taking a lead role and a co-producer's hat for the prime-time drama project Reef Doctors, to be filmed by Coast-based Jonathan M. Shiff Productions in and around Port Douglas.

Screen Queensland said yesterday Sea Patrol had made a valuable contribution to the Mission Beach community and the state economy.

"It has been a privilege for Queensland to be the production base for a series the calibre of Sea Patrol," a spokeswoman said.

In the financial year 2009/10, SQ contributed two grants totalling $1.2 million to the series, divided between season four and five.

The government body said yesterday that Sea Patrol also has a loan of $3,924,266 under the Revolving Film Finance Fund.

The 'Save Sea Patrol' petition, launched on Sunday, had 391 signatures as of last night. Find it at

By Geoff Shearer
October 27, 2010
The Courier-Mail