True crimes of the past rise to the surface in Deep Water

sbs-deep-water-photo-by-sean-oreillyIn the 1980s and 1990s a wave of murders bloodied the idyllic coastline of Sydney’s eastern suburbs. There were 80 murders, 30 unsolved cases and thousands of assaults. The victims: young homosexual men. Disturbing gang assaults were being carried out on coastal cliffs around Sydney, and mysterious deaths officially recorded as ‘suicide’, ‘disappearance’ and ‘misadventure’.

SBS brings these events of the past to life with Deep Water – a compelling new Australian drama series, a feature-length documentary and an interactive, immersive online and social media experience.

Directed by Shawn Seet (Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door) and written by Kris Wyld (East West 101) and Kym Goldsworthy (Love Child, Serangoon Road) the Deep Water drama series unfolds when detectives Tori Lustigman – played by Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black) and Nick Manning – played by Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones) are assigned to a brutal murder case.

Lustigman and Manning begin to uncover mounting evidence to suggest the killing is connected to a spate of unexplained deaths, suicides and disappearances throughout the 80s and 90s. Is this the result of shoddy police work, indifference, or something far more sinister.

The cast also features a line-up of renowned Aussie actors including William McInnes (The Slap, Blue Heelers), Danielle Cormack (Wentworth, Underbelly), Jeremy Lindsay Taylor (Puberty Blues, Sea Patrol), Craig McLachlan (The Doctor Blake Mysteries), Dan Spielman (The Code, Accidental Soldier), Ben Oxenbould (The Kettering Incident), and Simon Burke (Devil’s Playground). 

The drama also includes John Brumpton (Catching Milat) and Victoria Haralabidou (Barracuda, The Code), Simon Elrahi (Janet King, The Code), Renee Lim (Please Like Me, East West 101), and up and coming actors George H. Xanthis (The Principal, Open Slather) and Julian Maroun.

During the broadcast, audiences will be able to delve further into the investigation as it unfolds during each episode by following an immersive extended narrative experience on Twitter. In partnership with Screen Australia and Twitter, the initiative will provide viewers with exclusive access to evidence and crime scene material from the drama, providing another layer to the gripping story.

Photos and footage, previews of episodes and personal insight into the lead character of Detective Tori Lustigman will be shared on Twitter handles @DeepWaterSBS and @ToriLustigman. Viewers can also follow the investigation using #DeepWater and as the drama unfolds on screen, they will feel like they’re investigating the crime right alongside the Bondi detectives.

Directed by Amanda Blue, Deep Water – The Real Story is a 90 minute feature presenting first-hand accounts of Sydney’s gay hate killings in the 1980s and 1990s. This documentary unravels the stories of a society in the grips of homophobia as gangs stalked vulnerable victims on the coastline cliffs, brutal gay bashings were carried out, and lives were ended on the rocks below.

Survivors, witnesses, families of victims and many of those involved at the time including ex-police, investigative journalists, forensic pathologists and the ex-Deputy State Coroner are now candidly speaking out on the events of the past in the hope that new evidence might rise to the surface.

The documentary raises the complex question of where the responsibility lies for these crimes – the perpetrators, the police, or a wider society in the grips of homophobia, misinformation and fear?

Deep Water – the four-part drama series screens on SBS over two weeks from Wednesday 5 October. Deep Water – The Real Story screens on Sunday 16 October 2016. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Jeremy Lindsay Taylor and Yael Stone in Deep Water – photo by Sean O’Reilly