Hamish Macbeth-Series 1 (1995)

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Released 2-Feb-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 246:36
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jonas Grimås
Patrick Lau
Nicholas Renton
Sid Roberson

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robert Carlyle
Shirley Henderson
Duncan Duff
Brian Pettifer
Anne Lacey
Jimmy Yuill
Stuart Davids
Ralph Riach
Stuart McGugan
Barbara Rafferty
Valerie Gogan
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $29.95 Music John Lunn

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Hamish Macbeth is one of the great BBC comedy drama series of the 1990s, to my mind significantly better than Ballykissangel, although others may not agree. It was a short-lived series, only running for three seasons from 1995 to 1997 totalling 20 episodes, which is a great shame. This first series ran for only six episodes but unfortunately only 5 have made into onto this DVD release (spread over two discs). The missing episode was heavily based around music and ideas from West Side Story, the owners of which granted permission for the series to be made and transmitted but not for video or subsequent DVD release. All global releases of this series do not include this episode which was the fourth of the first series. You will have to decide whether the omission of this episode drastically affects the value of this set to you. Even without it, the set contains some great television, however, some important character development scenes are missing especially regarding the relationship of Hamish and Isobel in addition to a high quality episode.

    The series is set in the Northern Scottish town on Lochdubh and centres on the local constable, Hamish Macbeth (Robert Carlyle, in the role which kick-started his career), and the adventures of the various and eccentric villagers. He is much loved by the townsfolk and dishes out his own brand of justice which sometimes bends the rules. He is very clever and a good investigator but makes sure not to perform too well to avoid being transferred away from his beloved Lochdubh. He was born in Lochdubh but then his family moved to Glasgow. He has returned and now vows never to leave. The other key characters are:

    This show is a great mixture of comedy and drama with some excellent characters each with their own unique identity. Once you add to that some excellent acting, wonderful scenery and great writing, this show is a winner. Interestingly, the tone of the show changes somewhat part way through the series with the last two episodes being significantly more dramatic than the first three. The comedy is still there but the drama is more intense. These two episodes are the best of the series.

    The episodes included are:

  1. The Great Lochdubh Salt Robbery - The McCrae's steal salt from Rory Campbell's general store and a local thug, Big Geordie Robb goes missing.
  2. A Pillar of the Community - One of Hamish's heroes, an author, moves into Lochdubh but his wife quickly makes enemies after trying to tell everyone what to do. His wife starts to receive threats and Hamish investigates. This episode introduces Isobel.
  3. The Big Freeze - Rory thinks Esme is cheating on him with TV John and Colonel Maclean stages a robbery to try and make some money. Unfortunately, DI Bruce, Hamish's superior decides it is the work of the Raspberry Ripple gang who have been on a crime spree in northern Scotland and Hamish needs to help the Colonel get out of trouble.
  4. Wee Jock's Lament - Wee Jock is run down by some escaped prisoners speeding through town. Hamish sets off into the hills after them, followed by a group of town residents to ensure he doesn't do something he'll regret.
  5. A Bit of an Epic - A corporate hiking trip led by an arrogant ex-army colonel sets off from Lochdubh to scale a local peak. Hamish is concerned and decides to tag along as does Isobel to get a story for the paper.

    I would highly recommend this TV series to those who haven't seen it but I really cannot recommend this two disc set, due to the lack of one episode and significant video quality issues.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is diabolical in the early episodes but improves marginally as the series progresses.

    The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was reasonably sharp throughout although the clarity was greatly affected by heavy grain combined with aliasing which seemed to affect nearly everything on screen, especially during camera pans. The grain even appeared like snow in some darker scenes such as at 9:00 in episode 1. There was also some low level noise to be seen. The shadow detail was poor.

    The colour was a bit dull and also included some cross colourisation and chroma noise.

    Artefacts were not just restricted to the aliasing mentioned above but also included some significant excessive noise reduction which resulted in a number of obvious issues such as a police 4WD parked by the side of the road which jumped up and down in the picture. There was also some macro-blocking in backgrounds and edge enhancement just to round out the collection of artefacts.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read. In addition, some lines of Gaelic were translated with burnt-in subtitles.

    The layer change causes a short pause on each disc.

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


    The audio quality is fine.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand except for some accents but this is an issue with the original material rather than the transfer. There was no problem with audio sync.

    The music by John Lunn is jaunty Scottish style folk music, well suited to the programme.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The menu was very simple and still.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released in exactly the same format in Region 2 and Region 1. None of them includes the extra episode. Call it a tie although the US version might have better video quality although I have no ability to compare.


    One of the great BBC comedy drama series which launched the career of Robert Carlyle.

    The video quality is diabolical.

    The audio quality is fine.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, March 31, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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