Friday, February 26, 1999 Published at 12:01 GMT
Wave of protest over Baywatch move
Baywatch: Locals are split over whether it should move to Avalon
Plans to move the hit TV show Baywatch from Los Angeles to Australia have received a setback after furious protests from residents of a Sydney beach.
But 1,700 angry locals - a fifth of the population - turned out at a public meeting to oppose the move, fearing everything from an invasion of California culture to environmental disaster.
"After that, television stars just don't do it for me," said 17-year-old Ian Stone.
"We've just about lost all our koalas in the area already and Baywatch will only make matters worse," Mark Warren, a former world champion surfer, told the meeting at a local high school.
Another opponent, Alex McTaggart, said: "Just get out and never come back."
"It's a matter of who wants us to spend a couple of hundred million dollars in six years, and who wants to export to the world the most important television programme."
More than two-thirds of those attending the meeting opposed the plans for Baywatch to use their local surf club, which producers have promised to refurbish with a state of the art gym and sauna.
Local politicians are keen for Baywatch to come to the town, with New South Wales' prime minister Bob Carr ordering the state's film and TV office to help producers find alternative locations in the state if Avalon turns the show down.
"I want to see it anchored here in New South Wales with the rest of the Australian film industry," he said.
Already other towns are scrambling for Baywatch to move to their beaches. Politicians from Coffs Harbour, about 180 miles north of Sydney, arrived at the meeting with local fruit hoping to tempt producers to their town.
Although the show is still seen in over 140 countries worldwide, it lost many of its biggest names last year when five of its female stars - Donna D'Errico, Traci Bingham, Carmen Electra, Angelica Bridges and Marliece Andrada - were dropped from the show.
The local authority, Pittwater Council, will vote on the issue on 8 March.
TV and Radio