One of the most memorable TV programmes of our entire childhood, Baywatch was one of those shows that we all loved to sit down and watch with our entire family – even if some felt the emphasis on skimpy swimming costumes and buoyant beach bodies wasn’t all that innocent.
Read on for ten fascinating facts that you probably didn’t know about this classic Saturday afternoon show!
10. It was originally cancelled after one series
You may remember Baywatch being a roaring success from the very first series, but actually that’s not the case at all. After the first season didn’t make much impact on the ratings, the show was officially cancelled.
It was down to one bold hero to bring Baywatch back from the dead, and turn it into the incredibly popular show we came to know and love…
9. David Hasselhoff invested his own money to keep the show alive
Despite the fact that it was cancelled after just one series, the 80s legend that is David Hasselhoff still believed the show had potential. The Mitch Buchannon actor and Knight Rider veteran brought Baywatch back from the dead it by investing his own money and becoming its executive producer.
After being revived, Baywatch was on the air for a total of 11 years until it finally ended in 2001.
8. Michael Newman was a real lifeguard
Did you know that one of Baywatch’s stars was a real lifeguard rather than an actor? We’re talking about Michael Newman, who appeared on the show as a character named after himself.
Adding a little authenticity to Baywatch, Newman has only one other acting credit outside of the series, in 1999 action movie Enemy Action.
7. At its peak the show was watched by over a billion people
At its peak in 1996, Baywatch had a quite staggering weekly audience of 1.1 billion viewers in a whopping 142 countries! The amazing success of the show also meant that David Hasselhoff once held a Guinness World Record for being the most watched man on TV, Knight Rider reruns counting for part of that.
This was one of the main reasons why Hasselhoff was once estimated to be worth $100 million, although the actor and entertainer’s personal fortune has subsided considerably over the years.
6. Erika Eleniak and Billy Warlock quit when the show changed direction in season 3
Erika Eleniak (who played Shauni McClain) and Billy Warlock (who played Eddie Kramer) both starred in the first two series and the beginning of the third, at which time they both decided to quit.
It has since been revealed that Eleniak and Warlock (who were once engaged in real life) left the show together because they were unhappy with the direction it was taking, from comparatively hard-edged drama to a cheesy, overtly voyeuristic soap opera.
5. There was almost a ‘Baywatch Down Under’
In 1999, due to rising production costs the show was almost moved from Los Angeles to Australia. A pilot episode was even filmed for a prospective series which would have been called Baywatch Down Under.
However, this show was cancelled when local residents objected to the possible damage to the surrounding environment and the local council banned all future filming in the area.
4. The show moved to Hawaii for its last two seasons
After the plan to film the show in Australia fell through, Hawaii offered the producers massive financial incentives to move it there instead. The showrunners went for it, and from 1999 onwards the series was renamed Baywatch: Hawaii.
This new take on Baywatch may have introduced future superstar Jason Momoa, but it failed to win over fans. The series would be axed outright after its final two seasons.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio almost starred in the show
According to David Hasselhoff, the role of Hobie Buchannon was almost given to a future Hollywood legend, as none other than Leonardo DiCaprio was in the running to take the role of Mitch’s precocious son.
Ultimately, DiCaprio didn’t land the role. Hobie would instead be portrayed by Brandon Call in season one, and by Jeremy Jackson from seasons two to nine.
2. There was a spin-off show and three straight-to-video movies
Do you remember the Baywatch spin-off show? In 1995, Baywatch Nights saw Hasselhoff’s Mitch side-step from lifeguarding to private investigation. In case that doesn’t sound weird enough, by the show’s second season in 1996 they added sci-fi/fantasy to the mix. Critically derided and a ratings flop, Baywatch Nights ended in 1997.
There were also three Baywatch spin-off movies that were released direct to VHS. These were Baywatch the Movie: Forbidden Paradise, Baywatch: White Thunder at Glacier Bay, and Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding.
1. The series was later turned into a (terrible) Hollywood movie
16 years after the show ended, Baywatch was reborn as a big screen movie, with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson taking over the lead role of Mitch Buchannon. This might have sounded like a sure-fire hit, but sadly the results proved less than stellar.
An R-rated spoof of the original series, 2017’s Baywatch earned largely negative reviews and only modest box office takings of $177.9 million off a budget of almost $70 million.