Water Rats: profiles

Scott Burgess as Dave McCall

Scott Burgess

Dave McCall is the team leader of the Sydney Water Police Divers. He’s seen everything and done everything. In fact, he’s so experienced, that he somehow knows exactly what’s going to happen before it does. So while he’s still an active diver, he also knows one day he is going to sit his annual medical and be told by the police doctor it’s all over. Typically, he’s already planned for that one too. He’s acquired his Boat Master’s Certificate so that he can transfer straight into the Sydney Water Police boat crew.

Right now, however, diving’s still Dave’s life and he loves it.

He’s a career cop, conscientious, careful and cool in a crisis. Always the first to arrive, he’s invariably the last to leave too. When the going gets tough or dangerous, he’s just the sort of bloke you want around. At the same time, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly and, like all the divers, is not one for sharing his emotions with anyone.

Ten years ago, during a family crisis, Scott Burgess remembers a police officer he met at the time. He was rugged, fearless and kind. In taking on the role of Dave, he has tried to bring to life the kind of qualities that man possessed. And then there are the attributes that every police diver needs to bring to the job too: fitness, stamina and mental strength. When a police diver is called out, it’s not to rescue people, but it’s because they’ve reached the end of the line.

"I would like to think I could do the job," says Scott, "but, to be quite honest, I don’t think I could."

Scott does share Dave’s love of the water and spends much of his spare time in a boat he owns. Yet still every day working on WATER RATS is a challenge. There’s the difficulties of acting underwater, the complexities of his character to bring to the surface and all the technical considerations associated with having to work in police diving gear. On the other hand, he loves the thrill of such a tough assignment and enjoys the close atmosphere that quickly developed between the cast.

"I was very eager to get the role," he says. "I thought a quality television series that would be in production for a while would give me the chance to sharpen myself up and refine my skills. It’s an ambitious shooting schedule. They shoot quickly so you have to be prepared. It keeps you on your toes."

Scott, 37, came to acting quite by chance in 1981. He was working in a club when someone approached him and asked if he would be in a movie. Without any formal acting training whatsoever, he suddenly found himself as the lead in the feature film DEADEASY.

Before the shoot had even finished, he had acquired an agent and an audition for a role in the ABC production 1915. After appearing in that, he had parts in DIRTWATER DYNASTY and, more recently, in CODY and HEARTBREAK HIGH. With WATER RATS, he further consolidates an acting career of which most actors with far more experience—and years of training—would be proud.