Series one opening (1993).
|Created by||Wayne Doyle|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||260|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original channel||Nine Network (Australia)
|Original run||31 May 1993– 1994|
Paradise Beach is an Australian television series made by Village Roadshow Pictures. It is associated with New World Television for the Nine Network that aired between 1993 and 1994. The series is set around characters living and working on Queensland's Gold Coast and was filmed largely on location, offering views of crashing waves, golden beaches and scantily clad young women and men. Paradise Beach was intended not only as a rival to Australian soaps Neighbours and Home and Away but also to be the first breakthrough Australian soap to make it in America.
Veteran Australian producer Jock Blair was the driving force behind Paradise Beach, with Nick McMahon as Executive Producer, and the first episodes of the soap were aimed at the American audience. Australian actress Tiffany Lamb used an American accent in her role as Lisa Whitman, and her opening storyline revolved around her childhood sweetheart Cooper Hart (played by Olivia Newton-John's husband Matt Lattanzi). Also appearing from the start were Robert Coleby (Chopper Squad, The Young Doctors) as Tom Barsby, and another familiar face was Andrew McKaige (Sons and Daughters, Prisoner) as Tom's younger brother Nick.
The rest of the original cast consisted of unknown actors all in their first acting roles. These included Ingo Rademacher, now famous for his separate roles in American series Titans and General Hospital. Here, he played Sean Hayden. His on-screen sister Tori, was played by Megan Connolly. Sadly, the actress died on 6 September 2001 of a drug overdose, following short stints in Breakers and Home and Away. Finally, Raelee Hill was cast as scheming Loretta Taylor, Jaason Simmons was cast as bronzed lifeguard Harry Tait, Manu Bennett (credited as Jon Bennett) was cast as Kirk Barsby, son of Tom and his sister Cassie was played by Kimberley Joseph.
When Paradise Beach was taken off the air in America, all traces of Americanism were removed and the producers concentrated on making the series work in its homeland and Europe. Matt Lattanzi departed, but not before Olivia Newton-John made a brief cameo, beaming down from the entrance of an aeroplane. Further additions to the cast included more experienced actors from other soaps including Melissa Bell from Neighbours as Emily Harris, and former-E Street regular Melissa Tkautz arrived as Vanessa Campbell. However, after two seasons, Nine Network eventually cancelled Paradise Beach after just 260 episodes.
The series was largely savaged by the critics. With negative comparisons to the American shows Baywatch and Beverly Hills, 90210, the soap failed to make an impression in America. It was a similar disastrous launch in Australia, where it aired at 5.30pm, and even in the UK where Australian soaps of any quality are generally very popular, it flopped in an early evening 6.30pm timeslot, this may have been down to the fact it was broadcast on Sky Television, which unlike most of the other popular shows were seen on BBC or ITV.
- In the UK, the soap was launched in a blaze of publicity on Sky Television in late October 1993 in the 6.30pm time slot with a 12.30pm repeat the following afternoon. Sky moved the more popular, but recently axed E Street to a weekend slot, but when Paradise Beach flopped in Britain as well as Australia, Sky moved E Street back to weekdays and Paradise Beach was screened at 6pm and mid day, creating an 'Aussie Soap Hour' for a few months until August 1994. During 1996 Grampian Television broadcast the full series at 5.10 slot.
- Paradise Beach was screened in Venezuela by RCTV (Radio Caracas Television) on their matinal block of soap operas with a low rating. The series, named in Spanish "Playa Paraíso".
- The series was broadcast in Italy on Rai Due in 1994/1995 at around 8.30 in the morning and 2:30 pm.
- The show aired in daily syndication during the Spring and Summer of 1993, as somewhat of a replacement for the similar style show Swans Crossing. The show aired on most stations in the after school/late afternoon hours.
- It was also screened in Chile by Canal 13 (Chile).
Paradise Beach was parodied extensively in the popular Australian comedy series The Late Show. Emphasized was the poor acting, the formulaic plot and characterization, characters dancing every time rock-and-roll music was played, and the cash-in mentality of filming the soap series at a beachside studio complex. Several times throughout the sketch the characters would, in unison, point offstage and exclaim "Hey! Warner Brothers Movie World!".