Bondi Rescue s global hit
Bondi Rescue's global hit

Bruce "Hoppo" Hopkins is glad that after seven seasons of Bondi Rescue, millions of people around the world now realise that being a lifeguard means more than just checking out girls on the beach.

"People appreciating what we do and understanding what we do is a great thing because before we started doing the show, people didn't really understand what exactly a professional lifeguard did," he says over the phone from the iconic Sydney beach.

"They realise now that it's not all standing down there perving at girls. It's definitely given the profession more respect.

"It has done a lot of good for surf safety messages and we've had letters from people around the world, and around Australia; their kids have fallen in the pool and they didn't know what to do and by watching us resuscitate on the show they've had a go at doing it."

Hopkins is in charge of more than 30 lifeguards who are about to return for an eighth season of the Ten show which has won the Logie for most popular factual program every year since 2008.

"I think it's popular because we're just our natural selves. People can relate to us because we're just normal guys just doing a job that's probably exciting to people. You're at the beach and you're saving people's lives, the adrenaline is pumping," he explains.

Filming began in December and will continue through next month with Bondi Rescue now in an earlier timeslot of 6.30pm on Sundays.

Helmet cams, lightweight board- mounted cameras, underwater cameras and waterproof sound devices deliver audiences all the action of the lifeguards' experiences up close and personal. This season will give even more insight into the action.

Former Australian Idol host Andrew Gunsberg will no longer narrate the show with the lifeguards instead telling the story in their own words through interviews.

"We're basically narrating the show by doing our own interviews leading into the footage so that's something different," Hopkins says.

"It will go more in-depth and the viewers will see us more as characters. It's probably working better for us explaining what's coming up and what's going on while the action is actually happening.

"It gave us a chance to sit down and think more about it and we get to think about how we think and felt about it before and after.

"It does add a bit more time. Guys have to come in on their days off or stay late because they can't do it while they're actually working."

This season, the lads take us through their rescue dramas on the wettest Christmas Day in 70 years, the shark that cleared thousands of swimmers from the surf on the busiest day of the season, as well as violent bag thieves and fights.

"There's more rescues, spinal (injuries), a shark dive, Australia Day is a really good one - we had over 50,000 people here and we had a shark come in and had to put the shark alarm on and clear the water. It was pretty amazing trying to clear a beach full of people," Hopkins says.

There's also a new trainee Adrian "Taco" Kovacic, who struggles to keep his head above water in his first season.

"He's new this year and he started off a bit green," Hopkins says. "He struggled a bit but he's coming up good, he's picking up as he goes, I think it's been a bit of an eye-opener for him.

"He's only 19 and getting thrown in at the deep end with 50,000 people there's a lot of stuff that goes on and a lot to learn.

"It takes 10 years to really get a grip on it."

'It was pretty amazing trying

to clear

a beach-full of people.' Bruce Hopkins


The West Australian

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