Real-life dramas a sobering reminder on Bondi Rescue
A LOT of shows are lumped under the reality TV title these days.
But one show that is real in every sense of the word is still kicking goals after eight series - Bondi Rescue.
The Channel 10 doco series, which follows the working lives of Bondi Beach's intrepid, larrikin lifeguards, recently won its sixth consecutive Logie Award for Most Popular Factual Program.
It's a huge hit overseas, particularly in the UK, with hundreds of tourists coming to Bondi to seek out the hunky lifeguards every year.
As many as 26 cameras can be rolling on Bondi Beach at any given time to capture the busy summer days, where Bondi can attract 40,000 sun-seekers and the lifeguards can pull as many as 150 people out of a rip every hour.
Series producer Ben Davies came up with the show's concept while he was working part-time as a lifesaver.
"I was a freelance producer at the time and working casually as a lifeguard down here, and sort of put two and two together," he said.
"You've got your gauchos in South America and your ski patrol in Switzerland, but Australia's famous for lifeguards and lifesavers."
The show has evolved over the years and recently underwent a rebranding, as Davies calls it, where new graphics were added, the lifeguards started shooting more of their own footage and the narrator was dropped.
"We wanted to get more of the boys in the show and let them tell the stories," he said.
Tonight's episode is the perfect example of the unscripted, real-life drama captured by the Bondi Rescue cameras.
The episode marks the 100th anniversary of the Waverley Council Lifeguards and features a body retrieval, a sobering task for any lifeguard.
"Body retrievals are never a fun thing," Anthony "Harries" Carroll told me during a recent visit to Bondi.
"I think to myself that person maybe sat down to breakfast in the morning and then the next thing is they're gone. It's really important for us to give the family closure; to give them the body so they can grieve properly.
"It's one of those things no matter how many times you do it, you never get used to it. You know that there's always going to be pain and suffering from something like that."
Davies said the producers were very selective and sensitive about showing death on the show.
"The show is about life and death but most of the death we don't get to show," he said.
"In this instance we filmed it and just by the elements that were in there I thought it was worthwhile to put in the show to remind people that when we do talk about death it's authentic and genuine."
On a bit of a lighter note, tonight's episode also features fan favourites Hoppo, Deano, Maxi, Jesse and Kerrbox travelling to South Australia to face their fears by cage diving with great white sharks.
Bondi Rescue airs Sundays at 6.30pm on Ten.