Bush Tucker Man-8 Classic Stories of Survival with Les Hiddins (1996)

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Released 3-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 217:33 (Case: 216)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jack King
David Telfer

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Les Hiddens
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Craig Hanicek
Brian White
Rory O'Donoghue

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "There's not a rock around here for hundreds of miles, just about. Well, a hundred miles anyway. But sometimes, you can find one."

    The Bush Tucker Man is the television show I remember most from my high school days. During years 7 and 8, I spent many Social Studies classes learning about the Australian Outback. It wasn’t the easiest subject to learn about, given that it involved reading fairly sterile books and seeing pictures of bleak, desolate regions. Something was needed to kindle my interest in my own country.

    Les Hiddens is the person who saved the day. Being an ex-Major in the Australian Army, he became known for being a survival expert. His knowledge of which plant life and animals were not only tasty, but wouldn't leave you with any bad after-effects, such as food poisoning (or death) is enormous.

    This is the figure that Russell Coight’s character is based on. If you are familiar with his adventures, then The Bush Tucker Man is right up your alley. However, you need to leave your sense of humour behind, because Les Hiddens is all fact.

    Les Hiddens' show, The Bush Tucker Man, was broadcast on the ABC from 1987-1990. Exploring remote regions of Australia, from the desolate deserts to bushy bushland, Les taught the average viewer what to do when stuck without food and water. Mind you, I would be eating any berries or leaves that looked edible, or any animal that is slow enough for me to catch, or would dig a hole under a tree to find water. I am sure I would have no success, and would be left to die. Unless you have a portable DVD player on hand when stranded, you would need to remember all of his teachings.

    In 1996, The Bush Tucker Man was revived for an 8-part series, showing Les exploring some of Australia’s historic outback adventures, following in the explorers' footsteps and narrating along the way. From explorers with expertise in aerial expeditions, on foot, and briefly by water to some unlikely travellers who are thrown into cross-country situations, these stories are both fascinating to learn from, and sometimes unbelievable to hear about. The outback is not the easiest place to roam around in. Australia really did not have many famous explorers in its remote regions.

    Presented as a 2 disc set, this release from Roadshow and the ABC is a bare-bones affair, with nothing but these 8 episodes to show you some history of this country, and the scenery to match.

    Disc 1

    The Coffee Royal Affair 27:13

    This follows one of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s flights that didn’t quite reach its destination. Crashing in the remote region of northern Western Australia, Kingsford Smith and his crew had to survive for several weeks on what rations they had, and the plant life in the surrounding area. Les shows what food they did eat, and what they should have eaten. It is all a little too late to say this now, Les.

    The Cannibal Convict 27:26

    On the western coastline of Tasmania, a group of convicts in the early days of Australia escape and set out through the rugged bushland, only to find that there is very little food. In the end, the episode title comes into play, leaving only one left. Les goes along the same path that these convicts did, but does not resort to eating the flesh of his camera crew. Obviously they had a feast behind the cameras, therefore cheating their way through the episode.

    The Best Of Them All 27:35

    A deceiving title. Right through central Australia, Les travels not only with his trusty Land Rover, but by train. Neither of these existed when John McDouall Stuart became the first person to make this trek.

    The Dutch Settlement 27:35

    Les claims that there is proof that Australia was not first settled by the First Fleet, but by the Dutch. This Dutch settlement became more myth than fact as Les tried proving that he is more of a conspiracy theorist, following rumours to no avail.

    Disc 2

    Gold Fever 26:13

    Seeking a lost gold reef that Harold Lasseter was searching for, Les' appetite for gold gets him nowhere.

    The Passionate Prussian 27:32

    A journey from Toowoomba to the north-eastern areas of Northern Territory, following a fellow named Leichardt. Once again, an explorer I was not aware existed, nor made this phenomenal journey.

    The Great Misadventure 27:25

    Following the journey set out upon by the famous explorers Burke & Wills, Les heads from Bendigo up north to the Gulf Of Carpentaria. These explorers came so close to their destination, only to turn back and die a slow death of starvation. There are just some things that Les will not recreate, probably a wise thing.

    Into The Vilest Country 26:34

    Kennedy, an explorer travelling with his expedition to the northern tip of Queensland, comes to a disastrous end when he is killed by the local Aboriginals.

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Transfer Quality


    Made for the ABC in 1996, this was before the Digital TV age, and the standard aspect ratio of the time was 1.33:1. That is the aspect ratio for this DVD, and this is obviously not a ratio that can be used for 16x9 enhancement

    The image is generally sharp. Never do I get the impression that anything is soft. However, within the first minute low-level noise became evident, and would continue to be seen over all 8 episodes. It is quite distracting at times to the viewing. It starts in The Coffee Royal Affair at 0:55, and is most distracting in The Cannibal Convict at 25:40 surrounding Les' face and The Dutch Settlement at 23:23 around a mountain. You can pick and choose any frame that has these artefacts, but these are some of the most noticeable.

    Colours are extraordinary. I have never seen a TV show with such beautiful colours. Perhaps it has to do with the nature of the outback. This is apparent from the first few seconds of the first episode, and I was amazed at the luscious greens of the land, browns of the dirt, and blues of the sky. I am curious as to the filming equipment, and also what medium it was stored on in the ABC archives.

    Any time that Les’ trusty Range Rover is displayed, aliasing is most obvious from the edges of the windscreen. Gold Fever at 4:40 has the best example of this. Water shots have a blockiness to them, especially at 11:45, during a scene where rain is falling on water.

    I felt that more effort could have been put into cleaning up these artefacts on the DVD. The bitrate is reasonably high, varying from 4 Mbps up to 7 Mbps. Each DVD is approximately 5Gb in size, so it always intrigues me as to why distributors never utilise the full size of the DVD, or as high a bitrate as possible.

    No subtitles are present.

    These are dual layered discs, however, the layer changes are placed in between episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    We have a single English 2.0 channel stereo audio track, encoded at 224kbps present on these DVDs. This is quite adequate for the presentation.

    Dialogue is easy to understand at all times. The Bush Tucker Man theme song is present in every episode's introduction, at the conclusion, and throughout the episode. It is a theme that will grow on you after a few episodes, but becomes tedious after a few more, not to mention what happens if you leave the disc on the main menu, which loops the theme over and over. Atmospheric sounds are always heard, including crickets, flies and birds.

    There are no clicks or dropouts, and the quality is consistent throughout. While I did not find this soundtrack to be surround encoded, with Pro Logic II enabled I could hear enveloping atmospheric sounds. The music can softly be heard through the rear speakers as well, but the majority of the soundtrack is heard through the front speakers. I was not expecting my subwoofer to kick in. However, it was turned on twice during the series.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are absolutely no extras present.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is no Region 1 version of this release. This is as Australian as they come.


    Les Hiddens is as Australian as they come. His character, The Bush Tucker Man, is best known for his TV series in the late 80s. However, his comeback for this 8 part series leads away from what he is best known for - bush tucker - and follows in the footsteps of historic explorers, only to mention a couple of times each episode about what food these people did, or should have eaten.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Aiden O'Brien (Here are the results from my biopsy.)
Monday, June 14, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic Tau TX-68PS10A. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR500E
SpeakersJensen SPX-9 Front, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 Rear, Jensen SPX-17 Sub

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