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Water Rats makes us sick!

Water Rats makes us sick!

Making TV on Sydney Harbour has its ups and downs—just ask the stars.

It may look glamourous but working on Nine's police drama Water Rats, makes its stars sick. In fact, when Raelee Hill won the part of Senior Constable Tayler Johnson, she was so concerned about the effects of seasickness on Sophie Heathcote (Senior Constable Fiona Cassidy)—who had to leave due to ill health (see story below)—she was determined to guard her herself against the show's curse!

"And I've been pretty lucky… so far," she says. There was only one day that I felt really under the weather , and that was when the seas were really rough and there was quite a big swell.

"But Jay (Laga'aia, who plays Senior Constable Tommy Tavita) gave me a few tips before I started. He told me you have to try to keep busy when you're out on the water all day to take your mind off the fact that you're not on firm ground.

"He learned the hard way. He was sick at the start of the first series—but he's got his sea legs now."

Although she hasn't been as ill as her predecessor, Sophie, Raelee admits that it's when she gets off the boat she feels the most wobbly. "I suffer from 'land legs' rather than 'sea legs'! When I get home it takes me all night to get my balance. One day I got home after a long day on the water and I was swaying around so much that I toppled right over!"

Co-star Brett Partridge (Senior Constable Gavin Sykes) is one of the lucky ones. He reckons he hasn't yet felt like he couldn't go on. "I've never had a problem with seasickness," he says. "I used to go fishing a lot with my father, you see, so I guess I'm used to the water.

"But being sea-sick is one of the worst feelings, and I know Jay and Sophie both suffered from it badly. During the first series we had to work on the biggest swells we'd seen on the harbour for two years, and everyone was laying bets on how long I'd last before being sick."

Spending 12 hours a day on a boat can be hard, especially in bad weather or on big seas, but Brett says he still wakes in the morning looking forward to getting onto the set. "Of course if it's wet it can be a pain, but since I've been working on Water Rats I've discovered a lot of hidden beaches and coves around the harbour. And rather than get off the water on weekends, I want to buy a little runabout to go exploring on my days off."

…and the one who had to jump ship

Her seasickness was so chronic ex-Water Rat Sophie Heathcote had to jump ship just three eps into the second series—or she'd have becomes a drowned Rat!

Originally cast as a diver, Sophie only made it through about half of the first series before requesting her character be given a desk job.

A Nine spokeswoman says Sophie was constantly sick. She found it difficult to keep working on the show and, not wanting to delay shooting, asked if her character, Fiona Cassidy, could do her scenes on land!

Reluctantly, the writers and producers reworked the remaining scripts so Sophie could stay ashore, but too late.

With her character stuck behind a desk, her storylines were less interesting and Sophie decided to seek work elsewhere, where she wouldn't have to throw up.

Sophie is now shooting the ABC's new drama, 99.9 RAW-FM, which is about a funky radio station. Sophie plays a Madonna-style singer.

By Keeli Cambourne