ABC to produce 10-part Les Norton series starring David Wenham and Rebel Wilson

December 18, 2018
We can sense that Robert G. Barrett is smiling from his grave.

First published back in 1984, the character of Les Norton was the protagonist of Robert G. Barrett’s book You Wouldn’t Be Dead for Quids. A hilarious, wholly recognisable page-turner, it was immediately evident that this was made to be adapted into some form of screen content, and at one stage rugby league legend and media personality Matty Johns was going to be a part of a feature film project based on the material.

The character of Les Norton was a burly red-headed country boy from Queensland who is forced to move on the big smoke when things get a little hot for him in his hometown. A former rugby league player, and now a bouncer and constant fixer, the character appeared in further Barrett books The Real Thing (1986), The Boys from Binjiwunyawunya (1987), The Godson (1989), Between the Devlin and the Deep Blue Seas, and various others, ending with 2010’s High Noon in Nimbin. As per that last title, the books were filled with real Australian landmarks, with a particular focus on Sydney. Robert G. Barrett passed away in 2012, leaving a legacy that is now going to be turned into a 10-part series by the ABC, with directors such as Jocelyn Moorhouse, Fadia Abboud (Australian Gangster), David Caesar (Dead Lucky, Underbelly, Idiot Box) and Morgan O’Neill (Drift, Solo). It has been created for television by Morgan O’Neill, working alongside writers Christopher Lee (Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo), Samantha Winston (Wentworth), Shanti Gudgeon (Wolf Creek), Malcolm Knox (Romper Stomper), and Jessica Tuckwell.

It will be produced by Daniel Edwards and John Edwards from production company Roadshow Rough Diamond, who produced 2017 drama series Romper Stomper and the upcoming series Australian Gangster. ABC Head of Drama, Comedy & Indigenous Sally Riley will work as Executive Producer with Andrew Gregory; Deeper Water Films’ John Schwarz and Michael Schwarz; and John Singleton and Jack Singleton, the latter obvious massive fans!

Cast announced are Rebel Wilson returning to Australia, David Wenham (a real life redhead) and playing Norton, Alexander Bertrand (Home and Away, upcoming in Australian Gangster, pictured below)

Although Les Norton was always a respectable fellow, in the current climate there is a danger that his exploits may be construed negatively, and Screen Australia’s Head of Content, Sally Caplan concurs. “Les Norton is an affable character that has proven popular with audiences in the best-selling book series. What excites me about this TV adaptation is that the creative team have included a slew of new female roles to go head on with the male characters established in the books.”

Comments

  1. Frank McGrath

    That’s great news about Les Norton coming to the small screen. My first Les Norton book was “Wouldn’t be dead for Quid’s ” sitting in an Ozzie barbers shop in Brighton UK. After I emigrated to Adelaide and bought my Vespa, I wrote to Mr Barratt’s publisher and asked them if I could have all his characters painted on my Vespa, and they said yes, total cost was about $3000. Some years later the man himself turned up for a book signing in Adelaide and I had him pose on the scooter. We both looked pretty chuffed.
    Currently in the UK, but if it comes out in a box set, I’ll buy it.

  2. Roy Galloway

    Great to see Les Norton being resurrected, I have all the books (except Les Nortons cookbook, which somehow I missed and is now not available) all the ebooks and all the audio books. I cant get enough of Les. Have read them all several times and listen to him on roadtrips, in the wide brown land of ours. I will definately buy the dvds.

  3. Peter

    This will be a complete joke.ABC and Barrett like chalk and cheese.Battle of Stalingrad as re-enacted by poofs and tree huggers.

  4. Graham Cull

    Read all the Les Norton books. Can’t wait for the film series.
    How do I get a part in it.
    Wouldn’t be dead for quids!
    Graham

  5. Pete

    Wow!
    I’m so excited, I cannot wait!
    I have read all of the books several times and still laugh out loud.
    Les Norton is an inspirational part of my life in many ways.
    RIP Robert.

  6. Mitch.

    Why tf does everything have to be changed to suit the do-gooders though?! Why does there need to be a more “female influence” to the show?!
    Just let it play out like the books ffs!

    1. Dav

      “…in the current climate (political correct marxism – shaping and controling our freedom of speech) there is a danger that his exploits may be construed negatively” and Screen Australia’s Head of Content, Sally Caplan concurs (of course she does). “Les Norton is an affable character that has proven popular with audiences (because he is the opposite of pol.cor.marx.) in the best-selling book series. What excites me about this TV adaptation is that the creative team (thought police) have included a slew of new female roles to (fulfil female employment quotas) and go head on with the male characters established in the books (to further shove down mens throats a strong female ideal and emasculate a simple Aussie male centric yarn. Detouring into another conversation about powerful women, holding their own… at the expense of some humurous escapism. ” Just look what they did to Dr. Who.

  7. Mark Eymes

    So good to hear this news courtesy of Australian Story but so sad that Bob Barrett isn’t around to see it. I loved every book and Les even wore my surf shop Australian Surfer HQ t-shirts in Day of the Gecko. I sent every book to my mate in Santa Cruz California and they are still being past around over there. Well done ABC!

  8. Tiger Brown

    You are now entrusted with this legacy. Don’t [email protected]#Kk it up!

  9. Roden the rat

    Went and saw Moyra tested twice got part twice fell over twice script was shit .. l hope to this bloke can fight ……and take a a punch ….. if not it will be fucked … and the gingers will rise and as u know it’s not smart to piss off les … ps real scars please send him round l specialise in scars ….

  10. Bruce

    Knew ,Bob in the 70s when he lived @ Tamarama . As an author he had a fear of his character Les ( his alter ego ) looking lame on film .The books are not PC , dated when published , story wise , and won’t translate well .Dont do it !

  11. Adam James Vaughan

    As a young bloke of about 15 in 1985 I was given it to read by a mates older brother,as a 15yr old grommet, surfing everyday and partying, I only read the first half of wouldn’t be dead for quids, I dig it, yet was not a disciplined reader, too much surfing and partying to do!
    Yet, what I did read left an indelible mark in my psyche and I really want to finish the book.
    I look forward to seeing how it turns out, co’s I think we all had our pictures of what LES looked like and how he carried himself based on Robert’s writing, I distinctly remember “he had red hair and fists like hams” or something like that.
    I had the privilege of being a background extra in some prison scenes(wont say any more) co’s I may even end up on the cutting room floor, either way,it was fun and a privelidge and I did my best out of respect for ROBERT and being happy for him that his work was being honoured.
    Let’s hope what hits the screen does Robert proud.

  12. Jim

    Think Robert would hate that a bunch of limp wristed art lovers have got a hold of his stash!

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