Water Rats: profiles

Brett Partridge as Gavin Sykes

Brett Partridge

Gavin Sykes was just 17 when his life changed forever. A country boy living in the outback, he'd always assumed his future was working on farms, marrying a nice local girl and having kids. But when he went to Sydney with a few mates for the Grand Final he saw the ocean for the first time, and fell head-over-heels in love. He made neither the match nor the trip home.

After six years in the Navy, Gavin joined the police with the intention of finally making it into the Water Police. There, he's a great team member with the country boy's ability to fix anything and invent a gadget to overcome any technical problem. He still has the naivety of a country boy too, however. Headstrong and with a quick temper, especially if he thinks he's being patronised, he sometimes wades in without thinking of the consequences. On the other hand, he's generally a real easy-going Aussie larrikin who's the archetypal man's man. Of course, he's also a woman's man too…

Brett Partridge simply can't wait for WATER RATS to go to air. He feels the timing is perfect for a series such as this, it can't fail to be a hit. "The year 2000 Olympics is coming up and people throughout the world want to know about Australia," he says. "People everywhere admire our lifestyle. With this production's terrific actors, stunning footage and big budget, WATER RATS will have tremendous audience appeal."

For Brett, the character of Gavin was also a real draw. A sixth generation Australian himself, born at Bondi Beach, he loves the way Gavin is such an Aussie through an through. Brett doesn't mind the limelight, either. His parents were competition dancers who taught him to seek the spotlight whenever he could."Television is the strongest medium we have," he says. "If I can entertain thousands of people, what a buzz!"

Then there's both men's love of the water—Brett was brought up on the water and swims two kilometres a day—and their similar sense of humour. "But he has more guts than I have," says Brett. "He'd go in hard and fast without much thought, whereas I would worry about the downside of what might happen… He has a narrower view of the world than me. He's a pretty traditional Aussie character, like a young Paul Hogan, and a bit of a smart arse. There's not much of that in me, but it was my job to find it." In short, for Brett, it's his dream role. "The most important thing in my life was to get this role,' he says, 'and usually you don't get something you want that much. It was like a miracle. The timing, the character, the skills needed, all suited me.

"That's not to say, however, it's been all a dream run. Far from it. This kind of job for an actor always has its difficulties.

"Working on water, dealing with the tides, the wind, the rain, the cold weather in winter… and remaining focussed can be very difficult."

Brett's first job in television was ten years ago in SONS AND DAUGHTERS. He completed his three years at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 1991 and, since then, has had stints on A COUNTRY PRACTICE, VIETNAM, RETURN TO EDEN and HEROES II—THE RETURN.