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QUEENS­LAND DRAMA REEF DOC­TORS HOPES TO MAKE A SPLASH ON THE SMALL SCREEN

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

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.’’

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