German model make a splash
IN terms of ideal work places, the setting for Channel Ten’s long- awaited family drama
Reef Doctors is hard to top. The location is the Great Barrier Reef where, on the fictional Hope Island, Lisa McCune’s Dr Sam Stewart and her team look after the residents and tourists of Hope and neighbouring islands.
The biggest injection of bite comes in the form of single mother Stewart’s hobby studying venom, in the hope of finding cures to fatal diseases.
Stewart is also grappling with a “complicated” relationship with her ex- husband Jack ( Matt Day) and heading up a team that includes egotistical playboy doctor Rick ( Richard Brancatisano), no- nonsense nurse Olivia Shaw ( Tasneem Roc) and fourth- year German medical student Freya ( Susan Hoecke).
While McCune needs little introduction to Australian viewers thanks to long- time stints on Sea Patrol and Blue Heelers – and, more recently, as gossip fodder thanks to her alleged dalliance late last year with her South Pacific co- star Teddy Tahu Rhodes while still married to husband of 12 years Tim Disney – Hoecke is a new face on our televisions.
Reef Doctors has been made in association with Germany’s ZDF Enterprises and when Hoecke’s agent told her there was a role going in Australia calling for a German medical student, she leapt at the chance.
“It was like fate,” says the towering 31- yearold model and actor, who has appeared largely in German television and film roles ( the best- known, Sturm der Liebe, played in 20 countries) and funded her acting study with modelling jobs that took her all over the world.
“A year before I got the role of Freya I had a brief visit to Australia, because one of my friends had always said to me, ‘ You have to go to Australia, I have a damn good feeling this is your place’.
“She was right. I spent three months wondering, ‘ How can I work here?’. And then my agent said, ‘ Susan there is actually a casting there and they are actually looking for a German character in the show you have to audition for it’. And I landed the role.”
Getting paid for spending time on the Great Barrier Reef was good enough, but Hoecke says her character, Freya, was another gift.
“She’s an amazing character. She’s adventurous, active and driven and smart and open- minded,” Hoecke says.
Reef Doctors finished filming in early 2012, and Hoecke, now back in Germany, is dearly hoping Australian audiences will love it enough for another season.
Especially now, while she is filming a feature film in the mountains of her home country in temperatures down to minus- 10 degrees.
“I’m hoping for a season two so I can get the bikini back on,” she laughs.