Water Rats: articles

Steve Bisley

Nine casts off Water Rats as stars leave

STEVE BISLEY announced several months ago he would not return for future series.

Channel Nine has scrapped its Sydney Harbor police drama Water Rats after enduring erratic ratings and the departure of several key cast members.

It will end on August 7 after six years and 177 episodes.

At the height of its success, Water Rats, made for Nine by Southern Star, was watched by more than 2.5 million people in Australia, and it screened in more than 150 countries.

But it lost popularity in 1999 after the departure of two stars, Colin Friels and Catherine McClements.

Steve Bisley, who replaced Friels, announced several months ago he would not return for future series. Dee Smart, who is pregnant, has also left the series.

Water Rats has moved timeslots several times, including recently from 8.30pm to 9.30pm on Tuesdays. The ratings improved but, with further upheaval resulting from the cast changes, the network decided to focus its resources on other dramas.

In announcing the decision not to renew the drama yesterday, Nine Network's director of drama Kris Noble blamed escalating costs.

"We have decided to end it now on a high note that is appropriate to one of the all-time great Australian dramas," Mr Noble said.

It costs between $400,000 and $450,000 to shoot an hour-long episode on film.

A spokeswoman for Southern Star, which also makes Blue Heelers and The Secret Life of Us, said the company was proud of Water Rats, which remains on air in several countries.

The Melbourne-made drama Stingers will move into Water Rats' 9.30pm Tuesday timeslot on August 14.

Nine also has invested heavily in McLeod's Daughters, a family drama that premieres on August 5 and Young Lions, a police drama now in production in Sydney.

Three telemovies from the Simpson LeMesurier Halifax fp series are being produced for Nine in Melbourne.

By Kylie Miller
July 25, 2001
The Age

Water Rat pack axed

THE Nine Network has axed its long-running police series Water Rats.

The program will end with the screening of the final episode of the present series on Tuesday, August 7.

Water Rats premiered in 1996, with Colin Friels and Catherine McClements heading the cast.

The departure of Friels and McClements saw them replaced by Steve Bisley and Dee Smart.

Bisley's announcement this year that he was quitting the show was the first sign that the writing was on the wall for the series that dealt with the activities of Sydney's water police.

The show was one of the first to suffer from the new OzTam ratings, which showed the program to be struggling. The show was also expensive, costing about $400,000 a one-hour episode.

At one time Water Rats was Australia's most popular TV export, screening in more than 100 overseas markets.

Nine's director of drama, Kris Noble, said yesterday the show had been a fantastic performer for the network.

"However, we could see escalating costs ultimately degrading the standard of the show," he said.

"We have decided to end it now, on a high note, that is appropriate to one of the all-time great Australian dramas."

By Robert Fidgeon
July 25, 2001
Herald Sun