The crew on Mutiny, C4’s Bounty documentary, lost almost 4 stone during their voyage

Nine men, 3,600 miles of stormy seas, one tiny boat: introducing the harshest historical reenactment on TV

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Here’s a weight-loss scheme more daunting than the Atkins: a four-week dinghy trip across the pacific for Channel 4. 

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As part of the upcoming documentary Mutiny, a crew of nine accomplished a 3,600 voyage in stormy seas, losing up to four stone in the process. Why? To reenact the journey of lieutenant William Bligh, the captain of HMS Bounty who was forced into a jolly boat after his crew rebelled in 1789. Despite being cast adrift in a rickety 23-foot long ship, Bligh and his 18 loyalists navigated the ocean to find final safety in Timor. 

However, as the re-creation crew of nine found out 228 years after the original voyage, this was somehow harder than it sounds – particularly the famine. They set off with the same rations as Bligh, including 16 x 2lb pieces of salt pork (replaced with biltong due to customs regulations) and 28 gallons of water. For a 48-day voyage this didn’t go far, even for survival experts.

As revealed in the latest issue of Radio Times, Ant Middleton – Special Forces professional, SAS Who Dares Wins star and captain of the boat – lost over three stone over the four weeks: “I knew how hard it was going to be so I put on an extra ten kilogrammes to my normal 85kg weight before setting off. I lost all of that and 11kg of my own natural body weight – so 21kgs in total. I think that indicates how tough it was.”

“Mentally speaking it was the hardest thing I have ever done,” he added. “There was real and ever-present risk out there at sea.”


Middleton wasn’t even the worst off. Luke Kane, the boat’s doctor shed 25kg during the voyage – four stone in four weeks. However, the extreme weight-loss wasn’t the biggest challenge. “The hardest thing was the mental pressure you were under,” Kane told RT. “For days and weeks it was just you having to deal in your head with all the doubt and despondency, and that could get very extreme.” 

When the crew wasn’t warring their mental battles, they were bracing the stormy oceans, constant rain and hellish sleep deprivation. “When it was raining or big waves were crashing over the boat you couldn’t sleep,” said the on-board cameraman Sam Brown. “It’s then that you start to come apart at the seams.” 

It’s a minor miracle C4 crew survived. And although they stopped to supplement their supplies at six islands, rather than the four Bligh originally visited, the extreme historians certainly demonstrated the hardships of one of the world’s most miraculous adventures.

Let’s just hope they restrict their reenactments to a safe game of roundheads versus cavaliers in future, eh?

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Mutiny is on Monday and Tuesday (March 6th and 7th), 9.00pm C4