QUEENSLAND DRAMA REEF DOCTORS HOPES TO MAKE A SPLASH ON THE SMALL SCREEN
FOR ideal work places, the setting for Channel 10’s family drama Reef Doctors is hard to top.
The series is filmed on the fictional Hope Island in Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, where Lisa McCune’s Dr Sam Stewart and her team look after the tropical island’s local residents and tourists.
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 an ‘‘it’s complicated’’ relationship with her ex-husband, Jack (Matt Day), and heading up a team, which includes egotistical playboy doctor Rick (Richard Brancatisano), nononsense nurse Olivia Shaw (Tasneem Roc) and fourth-year German medical student Freya (Susan Hoecke, pictured).
While McCune needs little introduction to Australian viewers – thanks to long-time stints on SeaPatrol 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 leaped at the chance.
‘‘It was like fate,’’ says the towering 31-year-old model and actor, who has appeared in German television and film roles (the best-known, Sturm der
Liebe played in 20 countries) and funded her acting studies 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.’’
In early episodes, Freya’s greatest problem is Rick, who she hates on sight for his cockiness and arrogance, which means she’ll probably fall for him.
‘‘He challenges her, and that’s what she loves, but he also strikes sparks off her,’’ Hoecke says.
‘‘She hates him, but I think she also sees that there might be something behind his bravado.’’
Reef Doctors finished filming in early 2012 and Hoecke, now back in Germany, is 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 -10C.
‘‘I’m hoping for a season two so I can get the bikini back on,’’ she laughs.
‘‘Although in the role I’m currently working on, I feel like I’ve graduated. I’m playing an oncologist – so I’ve graduated from medical student on Reef Doctors to doctor in just over one year.’’