Farewell Sea Patrol

Next Tuesday night the HMAS Hammersley makes its final voyage, marking 5 years and 68 episodes.

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 Responses

  1. Jake

    I think your very mistaken with your comment! Sea Patrol has some of Australia’s most talented actors in it eg. Lisa McCune!! Weren’t around in the 90’s when Blue Heelers was on I’m guessing? If your gonna put comments like that up then you don’t have a right to be watching Australian television! Go to the U.S if you aint satisfied! Cause there are plenty of people who are!

  2. I love the way people who hate the show have time to comment. Must be because they have really pathetic lives. I’m from the UK and I love the show, and I am sorry it’s ending. The same with a lot of people over here. And if you haters took the time to watch more than promos you’d see that Sea Patrol had good characterisation, amazing plotlines and was a good representation of what fantastic drama is all about.
    Still some of you should be happy because it means that Channel 9 will buy in another UK or American import to show you instead of taking the chance of producing home grown shows that demonstrate some of the best that Australia can offer. And I would like to point out that Sea Patrol has been seen in 61 countries worldwide… not bad for a show that some of you have dismissed as rubbish….

  3. I think it’s a gigantic lost opportunity. McElroy only have a single plot for all their shows. There could have been stories written around all sorts of issues – rivalry between crew members, or illegal immigrants, or illegal fishing, a rescue, the issue of boredom with days and days of patrolling vast oceans.

    But no, the only plot McElroy are capable of writing around are terrorists, armed to the teeth. There’s nothing wrong with that plot per se, but there are lots of other plots that could have been explored. Here’s a news flash – the RAN dont encounter terrorists funded by megalomaniac rich businessmen every single day. Some days they just help people go about their business.

    And then towards the end it turns into a soap opera. You always know an Aussie drama is on its last season when there’s a possible pregnancy and all the anguish surrounding it.

  4. Sea Patrol is my favourite TV Show, and while I’ll be sad to see it go, I am immensely thankful to the cast and crew for five years of this magnificent show. While it isn’t perfect – nothing ever is – I feel it has grown with each season and will definitely leave behind a loyal fan base who will all be sad to see it go. Thank you all for five amazing years.

  5. Sea Patrol may not have been the most revolutionary in terms of Aussie drama but let’s be fair. It was aiming at a broad family and international market, so five seasons is a pretty good run. It’s easy to snipe but I don’t see the harm in letting those who enjoyed it to send it off in style.

  6. @Jake – look at Channel 7 for good drama – isn’t Winners and Losers on Ch7?

    SP started off slowly (hence the nickname “Snore Patrol”) but I thought it developed into a pretty good show the last few seasons. It was harmless and the acting was quite good.All it needed was to be a tad more edgy, a few spin out endings would have really added to the drama.

  7. @ Nick – LOL!!!! Mate I couldn’t have said it better!! This show was utter rubbish with horrid acting from the main cast especially the blonde from All Saints!! It’s pitiful that garbage like this can go on for 5 years!! Channel 9 ought to be totally embarrassed that they produced 68 episodes of this celluloid fodder. Some good advice here Channel 9….next time you want to produce a drama series get some real actors and writers…..look at Channel 7….they seem to be doing outstandingly with their drama shows….look and learn…..

  8. While I enjoyed Water Rats, well, at least until Friels and McClements went, this left me cold. It really did seem like a series from last century and the acting and characters were quite wooden. While it obviously appealed to an unsophisticated and uncritical audience, I, along with many others had moved on.

    It was still a lot better than Cops LAC.

  9. @Jezza, ratings of Blue Heelers, Water Rats, Stingers and McLeod’s were all poor in their final seasons as well – does that mean they have no legacy as well? You conveniently chose to ignore the ratings of the previous four seasons when it was in a decent slot and never did below 1 million…

    Thank you so much to Hal and Di and their incredible crew for their hard work and business they’ve brought to Far North Queensland the past five years.

    Thank you to Clint as well – best and most comprehensive fan site in Australia. I have never seen seen so much exclusive content on any other fan site – the fan site took the experience of the show up a whole level for fans over the past years!

    The show’s gotten so good the past few years. Shame that some uninformed visitors to this site feel the need to shoot it down. I think the show was to some extent a victim of the tall poppy syndrome, like most Aussie shows that run for more than a few seasons. But every show is going to have people who dislike it I guess.

    Cannot wait to see how it ends – looks like a ripper of an episode!

  10. 5 seasons of SP sums up everything that is not working in Nine’s drama commissioning process . It wont be missed at all. SP certainly joins BH and WR as heritage Australian drama, but it’s time Nine moved into the 21st century.

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