TV Review – Les Norton: You Wouldn’t Be Dead For Quids

TL;DR – This is one of those Australian TV shows that makes you sit back and marvel as to how it all works, cause it works really well.  

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Les Norton: You Wouldn't Be Dead For Quids. Image Credit: ABC TV.


There are many reasons to go sit down, turn on the TV, and watch something It could be your favourite show that you make time for each week, it could be you are bored and there is nothing else to do, or it could just be that you have heard good things about something and you need to go check it out for yourself. Today we review a show that falls into the latter column, though if this first episode is anything to go by, it might find its way into the first real soon.

So to set the scene, Les Norton (Alexander Bertrand) is a country boy from Dirranbandi in south-west Queensland. He’s hopped a ride down to the big smoke in Sydney to try out for some of the local footy teams. It is his first night in King’s Cross, so he takes some night work as a bouncer at a local club to pay his way. Which is where he meets his guide and new friend Billy Dunne (Hunter Page-Lochard). The first 22 minutes of his shift is boring, but we come in at minute 23 and the fists start flying. The head of the club Price Galese (David Wenham) likes what he sees and brings him into the fold and Les discovers a world hidden out of sight, protected by the powerful, and who run on very different rules where discretion is key.

Les Norton: You Wouldn't Be Dead For Quids. Image Credit: ABC TV.
Alexander Bertrand is a revelation as Les Norton and I am 100% here for the Star Trek reference. Image Credit: ABC TV.

This is one of those shows that grabs you in the first second, even before you know what just happened as Billy goes flying through the frame as a bunch of bikies try to muscle their way into the club. This is such a cleaver scene because it tells you so much about Les without giving you a lot of background detail, though the narrator (Angus Sampson) does help out a bit. Les is out of his element, working on other people’s guidance, but the moment he is unleashed, cry havoc. But also at all times he is trying to deescalate the situation and let them leave but the bikies keep coming and then they hit the floor. The other thing that helps sell the character is Alexander’s physicality that is an immediate presence in the show. I’m pretty sure he has gone to the top of a lot of people’s radar with this performance.

To go along with title character Les is a simply amazing cast that is game for anything and it shows. We have Hunter as Billy the sort of guide for Les who knows his way around the Cross and who is always a delight on screen. Then there is Pallavi Sharda as Georgie, who is the manager of the Casino and who knows all the numbers. Pallavi is one of those actors who can make small moments feel big. Then there is Justin Rosniak as Eddie Salita, a gun-for-hire for the boss who is introduced popping into from above while Les sleeps and pretty much stays in that level of intensity for the rest of the show. It also does not hurt when you have David Wenham and Rebel Wilson in your show, because they make everything that more interesting with their presence.

Les Norton: You Wouldn't Be Dead For Quids. Image Credit: ABC TV.
The rest of the cast show that they are here for anything which you see in the first few moments of the show. Image Credit: ABC TV.

The show is set in the 1980s and the whole production team should be awarded for the job that they do making it feel like it was ripped right out of that time. There are a lot of ways they bring you into this time frame, there are the sets, the locations, the cars, the clothes, the hairstyles, look everything even down to the gum wrappers feels right. There is also the way the show is edited using split-screen cuts and flawlessly splicing in old documentary footage of the Cross to give it context. To add to all this is the music that feels both from the era, but also like somehow contemporary. All of the recreates a world that is both fantastical, but also, not that far from reality.

The story is more than a little murky as on the one hand, it is about the big bloke from the country that is dropped into a world he does not really know. So there are a lot of humorous moments as he works his way through these fish out of water situations. However, this is also an episode that one of the main plot points dealt with underage prostitutes and that disconnect didn’t always work. This was also more of a setting the scene episode, so it will be interesting to see how the show develops out from here.

Les Norton: You Wouldn't Be Dead For Quids. Image Credit: ABC TV.
Things go from worse to worse at times for poor Les. Image Credit: ABC TV.

In the end, do we recommend Les Norton: You Wouldn’t Be Dead For Quids? Yes, yes we do. There is a lot of mature content here, so if that is not your jam then you probably would take issue with parts of it. However, for be Alexander was a revelation as Les, the rest of the cast were firing on all cylinders, and the show’s story knew how to grab you from the opening frame. I can’t wait to see more.            

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen Les Norton yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Les Norton
Directed by
– Jocelyn Moorhouse
Written by – Morgan O’Neill
Created by – Morgan O’Neill
Based onLes Norton by Robert G. Barrett
Production/Distribution Companies – Roadshow Rough Diamond. Screen Australia & ABC TV
Starring – Alexander Bertrand, David Wenham, Rebel Wilson, Hunter Page-Lochard, Steve Le Marquand, Syd Zygier, Pallavi Sharda, Justin Rosniak, Kate Box & Angus Sampson with Stephen Peacocke, Nem Logan, Apinya Nantanon & Keawalee Phumprueksa          


4 thoughts on “TV Review – Les Norton: You Wouldn’t Be Dead For Quids

  1. Having read a lot of Robert G Barrett’s books, I knew I had to watch this! Very authentic to the books and very well made. 10/10; could have been a comedy Underbelly

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: TV Review – Les Norton: Wrongside | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

  3. Pingback: TV Review – Les Norton: Season One | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

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