1 9 9 8 – 2 0 0 0 (Australia)
39 x 50 minute episodes
When SeaChange debuted on the ABC in May 1998, high-flying city lawyer Laura Gibson (Sigrid Thornton) had decided it was time for a change.
Her husband Jack had been having an affair with her sister and was in prison for fraud, she missed out on the partnership with a city law firm and her son had been expelled from school. Worse still, it appeared she may have killed the family cat.
So she packed up the kids and headed back to the place she could last remember being happy – the sleepy seaside village of Pearl Bay, where she took a job as the local magistrate.
What happened to Laura in Pearl Bay is what made the series such engaging viewing. It helped that the town was populated by a cast of odd but endearing characters such as hapless chancer and scheming estate agent Bob Jelly (John Howard), local layabout Griff (Brett Swain) and gentle hotel-owner and walking encyclopedia Meredith Monahan (Jill Forster) . . . and a potential love interest in a laid-back renaissance man known as Diver Dan (David Wenham).
When Dan slung a swag over his shoulder and left Laura and Pearl Bay for the Galapagos Islands, his departure did not affect the popularity of SeaChange.
Dan’s old buddy, rugged freelance journalist Max Connors (William McInnes) provided a new love interest for Laura in a relationship which dragged on for a little too long but ultimately ended happily – after she dallied briefly with the sweet but dull Warwick Munro (Shaun Micallef) before standing him up at the altar.
Viewers fell in love with the characters and the show, but also the entire concept of running away from it all and returning to a simpler, and therefore happier, life. Deb Cox and Andrew Knight wrote a town of likeable local characters who found themselves in charming situations, uttering pleasant dialogue.
The first series of SeaChange was the top ABC show for eight of 13 weeks. Series two was the top-rating broadcast across all networks for five of the 13 weeks, and the #1 ABC show for all 13 weeks.
Record numbers of Australians stayed home to watch the final episode on Sunday 10 December 2000.
Laura quit her job as a magistrate and discovered she was pregnant to Max; Angus (Tom Long) and Karen (Kate Atkinson) finally tied the knot in the white wedding of her dreams; Meredith made a miraculous recovery following her stroke, and a freak wave wiped out the contentious tunnel linking Pearl Bay to the rest of the world.
After three years and 39 episodes, SeaChange was gone and Laura Gibson had finally found her man.
The series was filmed mostly on location at Barwon Heads (on the Bellarine Peninsula, near Geelong, Victoria) and at the ABC’s Riponlea studios.
The show was revived briefly in 2019 as SeaChange: Paradise Reclaimed.
Paul English (1)
Patrick Dickson (2)
“Diver” Dan Della Bosca
Sergeant Graham Grey
Max “Mullet” Connors