1 9 7 1 – 1 9 7 2 (Australia)
39 x 30 minute episodes
Live-action adventures with the five-man crew of the 200-ton windjammer Endeavour on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with marine biologist Joe Francis (Richard Melkle), Captain Chet King (Joe James), Dr Hanna (Ihab Nafa) and Chet’s son Kip (Ken James).
This series – made by Fauna Productions after the company finished shooting Skippy – was made for the Australian 0-10 network.
It was much like The Rovers from two years earlier (which had also starred Rowena Wallace).
However, while the company was intent on using its old formula of working with familiar stories and genres, Barrier Reef was overly complicated, with the Endeavour having been fitted out as a floating scientific laboratory.
The series also suffered from having too many regular characters without any of the actors staying in place for the whole series – although spunk rat Rowena Wallace was already well on the way to becoming one of the most ubiquitous faces on Australian television.
Despite drawbacks in the area of narrative, Barrier Reef had excellent locations and some really superb underwater photography filmed by the husband and wife team of Ron and Valerie Taylor, the renowned underwater experts who also worked on Jaws (1975).
The series was pleasant to look at and never too taxing on the mind. With its inbuilt Australian ingredients, it sold well enough overseas so that, although it never was the profit bonanza that Skippy had been, it did return a modest profit on its investment.
The original working title for The Barrier Reef was Minus 5.
Dr Paul Hanna