Water Rats: articles


Colin's Tearful Farewell

Emotions flow and a partnership is disbanded as actor Colin Friels films his final episode of the hit drama Water Rats

Emotion is etched on the faces of longtime Water Rats stars Colin Friels and Catherine McClements as they go their separate ways.

Hot, salty tears spill down Catherine's cheeks when, in the guise of Detective Rachel "Goldie" Goldstein, she farewells her partner, Detective Frank Holloway, for the last time.

During his four seasons on the Nine Network show, Colin went beyond the call of duty. A stunt double was often used when Colin was too weak from chemotherapy following the removal of a cancerous tumour from his pancreas.

Now, Water Rats director Mark Piper is feeling Colin's loss keenly.

"Colin's last episode was an emotional day's filming," said mark. "It was really quite moving. Colin, who doesn't show a lot of emotion, had tears in his eyes.

"The tears on Catherine's face are real, too, because she and Colin are great fans of each other.

"They've been the ultimate double act and really made Water Rats what it is today–fantastic."

After working together on the show's Goat Island set in Sydney Harbour, mark was saddened when Colin revealed that he was leaving.

"I think people expected it because Colin had been so sick, but everyone was shocked," he tells Woman's Day.

"You get very close when you work with people day after day, year after year. It's like the family being broken up.

"Colin is a wonderful man, but people must move on. As a director, I learnt a lot from him, because he is a fine actor."

Colin, who's married to actress Judy Davis and is father to their children, Jack, 11, and Charlotte, one, spoke publicly about his war against cancer in a Sydney courtroom when he defended a charge of offensive behaviour following an incident with a bus driver.

"He kept his illness very private, yes," confirms Mark. "I don' think anyone really knew the extent of his condition but I think it was pretty serious."

Mark says Colin used to get very tired because he was having chemotherapy.

"He was exhausted because Water Rats was very demanding physically, But Colin didn't complain."

Now recovered, he is slated to take the lead in the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Macbeth this year. "He's changed his whole lifestyle," Mark says. "He's not smoking or drinking."

In his final episode, to air on April 13, Frank faces the threat of an international investigation when a suspect is assaulted.

Rocked by the death of a childhood friend from a heart attack, he's forced to face his own mortality and the need to free himself from his murky existence.

He confronts his feelings for Rachel and asks her to sail away with him, but she is left dockside, crying.

Colin's departure ends a year of crisis for Catherine as well as him. She was subjected to an 18-month reign of terror by an obsessed fan, who drove her to move three times in order to escape. Speculation is rife that she'll leave the series when filming ends in September. But Mark says the show will go on.

"With the arrival of Steve Bisley, and Aaron Pedersen joining the cast, Water Rats is moving in a positive direction."

And, with Colin's character still alive, there's a chance he'll reappear.

"Everyone hopes he'll be back," says Mark. "With Colin, you never know."

By Di Stanley
March 29, 1999
Woman's Day