Water Rats: articles

Dee's Big Break Dee's Big Break

Dee Smart can at last breathe a huge sigh of relief. Having endured three months of waiting and hoping, she has finally been signed as the new female lead in TV2's top-rating drama, Water Rats.

Dee is set to become a regular fixture on Sydney Harbour playing feisty cop Alex St Clare.

Her arrival—working undercover disguised as a prostitute—is aimed at filling the void left by the departure of Catherine McClements.

"Catherine is one of my favourite Australian actresses, and to be taking over from her is just totally awesome," Dee enthuses. "I just admire her to pieces. I couldn't have wished for a better was to come back to TV."

Dee has spent the past few years pursuing film and theatre projects. Most recently she's been a vampy Columbia in The New Rocky Horror Show, and co-star to Rod Taylor is Stephen "Priscilla" Elliott's Welcome to Woop Woop.

But it is Water Rats that's causing her current excitement.

"I'm as happy as Larry," says the former Home and Away star. "This is the only TV I've wanted to do in ages and it's well worth the wait. But it's been a tough process.

"I don't really know why it took so long. I thought I was right for the job straight up. I'm ready for this—I know it's what I want."

The show's executive producer, Kris Noble, believes Dee is the perfect addition to Water Rats.

"It has been a very tough role to cast," he says, "We've looked at many actors and they've had to come back two or three times. We wanted someone who is both credible, and sexy, and Dee is both. She'll bring a great dynamic to the series."

Errol Sullivan, Chief Executive of Southern Star which makes the programme, adds, "Dee will continue to bring that potent '90s female sexuality brought to the show by Catherine McClements."

Dee, 33, is bracing herself for an incredibly demanding workload.

"It's going to be a really hard slog," she says. "It's not the sort of show you can spend a lot of time preparing for. It's an hour of television a week, so it's fast and will mean a lot of thinking on my feet.

"It's going to be quite consuming, but we're all prepared for it back at home. We've had time to think about it."

The "we" she refers to is her husband, futures broker Chris Hancock, and their Jack Russell dog, Jesse. The happy family share the lavish Bondi home of Chris' best friend, media baron James Packer.

But her private life remains intensely private. Dee does, however, recommend marriage. "Marriage is great!" she exclaims. "Everyone should try it."

She and Chris wed in Las Vegas in June 1998. With an Elvis impersonator singing Viva Las Vegas, the dazzling Dee walked down the aisle on the arm of actor Rod Taylor, who gave her away.

Dee and Rod became great mates while filming Welcome to Woop Woop.

"Oh, God love him," she says of Rod. "He's very excited for me about my Water Rats role. He's my daddy, my guardian angel, he's very special. He's a big support and I'm very, very happy."

She's also happy to be teaming with Steve Bisley in Water Rats. And she's predicting a better chemistry than the previous time they acted together.

"The last time I worked with Steve, I threw up all over him," she laughs. "He was a doctor and I was a patient in the series GP.

"When I went to the Water Rats audition he said, 'I think I know you from somewhere.'

"It's going to be great working together. There will be a chemistry that comes from my respect and admiration for him as a great actor."

By Glen Williams
Woman's Day