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Ocean Girl (1994 - 1997)

Children's series
78 episodes x 30 minutes

Series synopsis:

Ocean Girl is a 78 episode fantasy, live action drama following the adventures and personal growth of the amazing ocean girl Neri (Marzena Godecki) and her young friends, Jason (David Hoflin) and Brett Bates (Jeffrey Walker). The boys and their family and friends live on Ubri, an underwater research colony. Neri, the beautiful alien, can swim at extraordinary speed, but her most remarkable gift is her ability to telepathically communicate with a humpback whale called Charley.

Set primarily in the stunning tropical northern Australian rainforests and the magnificent Great Barrier Reef marine park, the Ocean Girl stories unfold over four series.

In series one (1994, 13 episodes), Neri, the mysterious girl from the sea with her humpback whale companion Charley, meets the Bates family from the futuristic underwater city of Orca. Lonely Neri struggles to find her place in this new world. She must choose between life in Orca with her new ‘family’ or the freedom of the ocean.

In series two (1995, 13 episodes), Neri, aided by the kids from Orca, uncovers the incredible truth about her journey from space – and finds the sister she never knew existed. With the chance to go back to where she came from, Neri has to make another big decision about her future. Will she go home with her sister Mera (Lauren Hewett) or will she stay to continue her father’s mission to watch over the oceans?

In series three (1996, 26 episodes), Neri and the children from Orca set out in search of the pieces of an alien device which, when assembled, is capable of controlling the movement of the oceans. When the dark forces of Ubri also stumble upon its existence, the race is on. At stake is the Earth’s salvation – or its destruction – and it is up to the children and Neri to be the first to find the only means by which the oceans, and the earth itself, can be saved.

In series four (1997, 26 episodes), Neri discovers an underwater pyramid, built long ago by voyagers from her own planet. The action now includes Egypt and the Australian outback, as a terrible battle with alien rebel forces from Neri’s planet takes place. Neri engages in a deadly struggle with a rival princess for control of the mystical pyramid on Earth, which can save humanity or destroy it.

Curator’s Notes:

Four series of Ocean Girl were produced between 1994 and 1997 by Jonathan M Shiff Productions. Ocean Girl is renowned for its eye-catching locations, capitalising on the natural wonders of far north Queensland and using the three-million-year-old tropical Daintree Rainforest, beaches, and the Great Barrier Reef to great advantage. Without a doubt, these stunning locations are a starring feature of the series. With the added bonus of high production values, a strong cast and strong themes of conservation, tolerance and friendship, Ocean Girl was a successful and deservedly popular children’s series.

Highly photogenic, beautiful Melbourne girl Marzena Godecki stars as Neri. She was 15 years old when the first series was shot. Chosen from over 500 young girls, Godecki played Neri for the four series between 1994 and 1997 and was 19 by the end of the last series. David Hoflin played Jason Bates and Jeffrey Walker played Brett Bates in all four series, along with Alex Pinder as Dr Winston Seth. Kerry Armstrong played Dr Dianne Bates in series one and two and was replaced by Liz Burch in series three and four. William McInnes played Commander Jack Lucas in series one.

An expensive and complex production, key to the story of Ocean Girl is the relationship between the character Neri and Charley the humpback whale, who was really a 700 kilogram fibreglass and aluminium life-size model. Footage of the model Charley was later combined with footage of actual humpback whales in post-production.

Creator and producer Jonathan M Shiff describes how the superb underwater sequences were shot: ‘Our underwater second unit on Ocean Girl spent several weeks living at sea over Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. We had up to 20 people in the water at any one time for safety and stunt coordination, underwater film camera operators, assistants, buddy divers and stills … these second unit sequences were directed from a flotilla of zodiacs topside using portable video split and underwater communications to the divers and actors below.’

To prepare herself for the many and complex underwater sequences, Godecki undertook an intensive training program of swimming and scuba diving. When she was filmed in open water situations, it was always under the close watch of a stunt and dive safety team who, among other things, were on constant shark watch.

A diverse range of locations across Melbourne, Victoria and far north Queensland were used to film the Orca scenes, including the large aquariums at the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville. Other locations included a Melbourne swimming pool for underwater scenes with green screen background, various Victorian locations for places such as Hellegren’s house,and the Ubri headquarters, and Melbourne studios including Crawfords.

Ocean Girl series four won the 1998 BAFTA Award for Best International Children’s Program and the 1998 Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Award for Best Original Children’s Screenplay, awarded to Annie Fox for Episode 21.

Titles in this series

Ocean Girl – Series 2, Episode 3 1995

Able to swim like a fish and telepathically communicate with a humpback whale called Charley, ocean girl Neri (Marzena Godecki) is searching for the secret of her past. With the Bates brothers Jason (David Hoflin) and Brett (Jeffrey Walker), and ...