11th May 1998

BRAVE Water Rats star Colin Friels is fighting back after a brush with cancer and – determined to defy TV gossip – has signed on for the fourth series of the Nine Network’s hit show.

“I intend to be working with Water Rats for years,” says courageous Colin, who is still receiving treatment after an operation to remove blockages from his bile and pancreatic ducts late last year.

“l’ve signed for the new season of Water Rats – no matter what else you hear. l’m pleased to be a part of it. The show is successful both locally and internationally and there’s also a great appeal for me to work at home in Sydney and out on the water. Sailing is one of my passions,” he grins.

Colin’s other great love is for his family – reclusive leading lady Judy Davis, their 10-year-old son, Jack, and baby Charlotte, born in September.

“That’s why everyone was so devastated when Colin’s illness was diagnosed,” a close friend told Woman’s Day. “He’s a devoted family man. It seemed too cruel coming so soon after the birth of his second child.”

But with his role as Detective Frank Holloway, Colin reckons he’s copping it sweet – despite false rumours claiming he was too sick to keep working and planned to quit.

“l’m an extremely lucky person,” he said only last month. “l’m incredibly lucky. What was that song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life? Life is a hard, chaotic mess, but you can’t deny it, we’re all lucky.”

Water Rats executive producer, Ted Roberts, agrees – having just signed Steve Bisley to the regular cast.

His character lone-wolf Detective Senior Constable Jack Christey, was first seen on screen in February, but joins the Sydney Water Police full-time from June.

“It makes for an exciting tussle between the characters – the way it works is as a really interesting trio,” says Steve, determined not to give too much away. “And for me, as an actor, it’s terrific to be joining Colin and Catherine McClements on the show.”