Farewell Sea Patrol

Next Tuesday night another Australian drama leaves our screens as Nine’s Sea Patrol makes on its final voyage.

The HMAS Hammersley will set sail on 5 years and 68 episodes.

Since premiering in 2007, the series has offered a broadly-appealing drama, action, romance and glamorous settings. With a cast led by Lisa McCune and Ian Stenlake, its final crew includes John Batchelor, Conrad Coleby, Matthew Holmes, Kristian Schmid, Nikolai Nikolaeff, Danielle Horvat plus Tammy McIntosh, Ditch Davey and Renai Caruso.

Previous castmates included Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, David Lyons, Kirsty Lee Allan, Jay Ryan, Steve Bisley, Saskia Burmeister, Tasma Walton, Ian Roberts, Jessica Napier, Alan Dale, Josh Lawson, Sibylla Budd and Christopher Stollery.

Produced by McElroy All Media, the show been nominated for several Logies, but never won. Yet it sells to numerous foreign territories, including the United Kingdom, Serbia, Belgium, Indonesia, India, Russia, Italy, South Africa, Mexico, Vietnam, and Palau. It also plays internationally via Hallmark.

To mark the ending of the series, TV Tonight tasked Clint Rolfe, webmaster at fansite sea-patrol.com to reflect on the show’s achievements.

Sea Patrol came at a time when Australian drama looked pretty bleak. Hal and Di McElroy set out to do something that no one in Australia has ever done. They succeeded in making an ambitious action-drama shot almost entirely on location – and in some of the most challenging locations imaginable. Two months every year on the open water, working alongside real Navy personnel, followed by two months in jungles and various other remote land locations. Cast and crew working in extraordinarily dangerous and trying conditions with constant exposure to life-threatening animals, extreme weather conditions and sea-sickness,” he said.

“No, the show was not perfect. Early scripts often seemed overwritten, the characters restricted by necessarily formal Naval language and procedures.”

But Rolfe says the show improved from year to year, a challenge given much of the series was shot out of sequence. Producers had limited access to the actual navy vessel, and had to shoot all exterior scenes with the boat for the series ahead of interiors and other scenes (Continuity earned their stripes!).

“The improvements in the writing, acting and editing are particularly evident from Series 4, with the last couple of years delivering some especially high quality episodes that would stand up for scrutiny next to any other Aussie drama.”

He acknowledges the risks taken by producers Hal and Di McElroy and hopes it will encourage others to tackle big-scale dramas.

Sea Patrol‘s legacy is extensive: it injected a huge amount into the Queensland economy; it has forever captured Mission Beach on film just before it was destroyed by Cyclone Yasi; it has had a positive effect on Navy recruitment during a period of unfortunate publicity for the organisation; it provided a unique training ground for a group of actors and crew who were forced to think quickly and intuitively in a way that no other job has ever demanded them to – these lessons and skills can only have a positive flow on effect to the industry.

“As for loyal fans of the show, Sea Patrol will be remembered as journey we went on with a group of fantastic and often quirky characters played by actors we already loved, came to know and love, or developed a new appreciation for. Our sailors with their odd Naval nicknames all had failings of one kind or another; the thing that united them was their extraordinary capabilities and commitment to defending Australia.

“I hope it can take a place next to Blue Heelers and Water Rats as another solid McElroy production.

“I think they’ve done a fantastic job.”

Sea Patrol finale airs 8:30pm Tuesday (Sydney / Brisbane); double episode 8:30pm Melbourne / Adelaide / Perth.

39 Comments:

  1. Well I for one enjoyed the series I am sad to see it finish. But then I am just a pom over here in the UK , Lived many years in good old Oz and the series bring back happy memories.

  2. Ratings are poor.I personally don’t get what’s with all the police procedurals and crime shows on almost every channel at the moment.Don’t watch them or care for them.I love soaps as much as the next guy.I watched things like Emmerdale and Hollyoaks/Coronation St while I was in the UK some time ago and those are good things and then there’s your Winners and Losers which is good too

  3. Madame Tango

    Sad to see it go – it was derivative and no where as well written as Patrol Boat. But it was a good money spinner for the Movie World where it was mostly filmed (when not on location) and it brought some amazing innovations including a screen that allowed it to look like they were really on the ocean at the times when they were filming on set.

  4. @ Jake….How about you keep the discussion on topic? I resent the implication that just because I’m based in the UK I can only like soaps, I happen to enjoy watching shows, such as Sea Patrol, that require a modicum of intelligence to follow them.

  5. What a shame to see Sea Patrol ending, one of the best Aussie dramas in recent years. It will be sadly missed by a legion of fans, both here and overseas.

    And to all the haters out there, thanks for taking the time to read this great article; thanks for taking the time to think about your response, carefully wording it to express your dislike for the show; thanks for taking the time to sit there and type your comment; and thanks for taking the time to come back and check if anyone has responded to your post. We all know time is so precious these days, so from all the Sea Patrol fans out there…. thank you for dedicating so much of your time to our favourite show!

  6. Sea Patrol isnt for everyone but i love it!

    I think combining with the beautiful scenery, the talented line up of actors and a great crew like the McElroy family makes a good quality drama,

    People who go on about this show being crap, tell someone who cares, id like to see you produce a multi million dollar show that has been sold to over 60 countries. Stop being so negative because you sound stupid and childish..

    Its a real shame to see the Hammersley sail off into the sunset for the last time.
    Fair winds Sea Patrol x

  7. Sea Patrol, 5yrs 68 eps, shame to see it go, it was a good Series, and it had it’s followers. The pool of Aus. drama series was already small, with yet another series gone now, it has gotten much smaller, how small does the Aus. television industry intend to let Aus drama series tv get to? It is certainly on it’s way out on 9, with just Rescue S-O left.

  8. According to Nine its a ‘beloved drama’ or some other network spin. Now I liked it in the first few season but became to predictable in the last few, still I might watch the final just to see how it ends.

  9. @ Telephoto – You’re from the UK and you love Sea Patrol???? Sorry but that doesn’t say much. I mean you guys love that other horrid Australian program: Neigh-bores. I just can’t believe that this crap still rates anywhere on this planet. Neigh-bores stopped pulling decent ratings here 20 years ago and has now been banished to a digital station where few watch it…..I’m sure that you also love watching that other “gem of a program” Coronation Street…..enjoy…

  10. @ Gil & Michaael*oz – Guys… Winners And Losers is a brilliant show…I love it and so do most viewers. Just check the ratings; they speak for themselves. I remember when Sea Patrol started it was stated that the show was getting 1.2 million viewers for a while but it still wasn’t financially viable due to the shows’ astronomical budget. Even with overseas sales it wasn’t viable. Viewers are tired of action programs…take a look at Cops LAC and the current ratings for Rescue Special Ops…..bad!!! Viewers are demanding family dramas…I say start producing shows set in the depression era such as The Sullivans and 1800’s dramas. I believe Wild Boys is going to be a major hit for Channel 7…they seem to be on the right track….

  11. @ Telephoto: So well said!!! Go the UK!!!
    Yes, what sort of same, same American cop show or lame, unfunny “comedy” are we going to get to replace it???? Or will it be yet another pointless “reality” cooking or renovation show???
    The demise of Sea Patrol is a great loss to Aussie TV, just as it was when McLeod’s Daughters ended … both very individual and uniquely Australian!!!

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