Water Rats: articles

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Wet & wild!

The Police drama Water Rats made a real splash last year and promises to be even better this time around

Being speared by booby-trapped crates and pulling passengers out from a sunken plane is just another day at the office for the talented team of the Sydney Water Police, better known on-screen as the Water Rats! The popular police drama series which premiered last year, made a real splash with viewers and the new series which kicks off this month promises to be full of excitement, both above and below the murky depths of the harbour.

Scott Burgess, who plays diver Sergeant Dave McCall, reckons it's full steam ahead in the upcoming action-packed episodes!

"The new series is absolutely world class, it is fast paced and great quality drama. It's all filmed in Australia's own backyard, and most of the stories are based on things that actually do go on in Sydney Harbour," says Scott."

Although, it would be a bit crowded down there if the real water police pulled out as many bodies from the seabed as we pull out on Water Rats each episode," he adds with a grin. "But it is a drama and I guess a little bit of exaggeration is OK … for entertainments' sake!"

To prepare for their role as divers, Scott And Aaron Jeffery, who plays hunky Senior Constable Terry Watson, took a few lessons from the real life Sydney water police.

"It takes a certain type of person to do a job like that," admits Scott. "They spend all day looking for dead bodies underwater and sometimes it's so dark that they have to do it by touch alone! It wouldn't be my cup of tea."

Another member of the Water Rats' crew who wouldn't like to do his on-screen job is Jay Laga'aia, who plays Tommy Tavita, the senior member of the Nemesis boat crew. Jay insists that he is actually a bit of a land lover.

"I was worried about the amount of time that I had to spend on the water while filming. I didn't know how I would handle the sea sickness!" admits Jay. "I can't even swim very well. My ancestors all came to Australia on boats or swam across, but I flew on a 747!"

Despite not making a splash in the water, the talented New Zealander had a boat license before going for the part of Tommy. Jay won his 'sails' on a trip he made to Australia in 1995 when he was performing in Jesus Christ Superstar. But Jay's fellow boatman, Brett Partridge reckons that getting a boat license was as easy as falling off a bit of driftwood.

"It was just a matter of reading a few books," insists the Bondi-born actor. "I've also been able to get my diving license. I was introduced to diving thanks to Water Rats, and now I've taken it up as a weekend sport!"

Character flaws

The boys reveal just how much of themselves they've put into their on-screen alter-egos.

Jay Laga'aia on Tommy Tavita
"He is far more straight-laced than I am because he's responsible for such a lot of people, while I'm as crooked as a dog's hind legs."
Brett Partridge on Gavin Sykes.
"We're very much alike—I love the water and I am a bit of a smart arse as well."
Scott Burgess on Sergeant Dave McCall.
"Dave is like me because he is serious and conscientious, but also quite likable."

By Vicky McFarlane
February 1997