Water Rats: articles


Joss the Rat!

Meet one of the new faces set to spice up Water Rats in 2000

PUBLICISING his role in Water Rats doesn't sit well with Joss McWilliam. Talking about himself is not high on his list of favourite things to do.

"It's just that this is my job," says Joss (right), who plays head diver Snr Sgt Lance Rorke. "As for what I do… what do people really care about that?"

The reluctant star is one of the new faces in the Nine Network series, which returns this Tuesday (February 22) after a year in 1999 which saw as much drama behind the scenes as on the screen.

With Jay Laga'aia, Catherine McClements and Raelee Hill all leaving, and claims of a lack of strong storylines, 2000 was shaping up as a shaky year for the show.

However, it has bounced back with four new characters, played by Joss, former Home And Away star Dee Smart, Diarmid Heidenreich (best known for a series of television ads in which he played Dougie, the pizza delivery boy) and Rebecca Smart, who starred opposite Bryan Brown in the 1980s miniseries The Shiralee.

Nine Network head of drama Kris Noble believes fans of Water Rats will approve of the cast changes.

"This series is definitely the best I've seen," he says. "Water Rats has taken on a life of its own and is bigger than any individual. Only an established program could withstand the numerous changes."

Among the new recruits, some firm favourites remain. Steve Bisley returns as Det Sgt Jack Christey, as does last year's other newcomer Aaron Pedersen as Det Snr Con Michael Reilly. Long-time cast members Brett Partridge (Snr Con Gavin Sykes), Toni Scanlan (Snr Sgt Helen Blakemore) and Peter Bensley (Chief Insp Jeff Hawker, are back, as is Allison Cratchley as Con Emma Woods.

For 41-year-old Joss, the chance to act in Water Rats marks a return to a long-running television series, having previously starred in Pacific Drive, Wildside and GP.

"It's good to have the security, but I have other things to keep me busy as well," he says, referring to his Sydney gardening business. "The gardening keeps me busy, and it gets me outdoors."

As rugged Lance Rorke, Joss also gets plenty of time to enjoy the fresh air.

"Working on this show is fantastic," he says. "In terms of the character, he's pretty straight up-and-down, with a bit of a past. Lance is a good guy, a guy who likes what he does and looks out for his divers."

However, as for delving further into what makes Joss McWilliam tick…

"Most people don't have a clue who I am, and that's a great position to be in," he says, fiercely guarding his privacy. "I don't want knowing what in the hell I get up to. I'm realistic about what I do, and I enjoy what I do.

"For me, to be working in Australia as an actor is a coup."

The new force in WATER RATS

Dee Smart plays Det Snr Con Alex St Clare

A seven-year veteran of the force, Alex is street smart beyond her years. From a comfortable upbringing, she became a cop to escape the middle-class tedium. An adrenaline junkie, Alex wants to make a difference.

Diarmid Heidenreich plays Con Matthew Quinn

Matthew has spent his life near the water, and it was a lifetime ambition to join the water police. It has helped him come to terms with a fatal accident a few years ago. A larrikin and a flirt. Matthew can be overconfident at times.

Rebecca Smart plays Con Donna Janevski

Donna isn't sure that being a cop is for her. Fresh from the academy, she shows a flair for organisation, to the annoyance of some colleagues. Because she works the front counter, Donna is in the perfect place for all the juicy gossip.

Marina Williams
TV Now