A fast-ion deuterium alpha (FIDA) spectrometer was installed on MAST to measure radially resolved information about the fast-ion density and its distribution in energy and pitch angle. Toroidally and vertically directed collection lenses are employed, to detect both passing and trapped particle dynamics, and reference views are installed to subtract the background. This background is found to contain a substantial amount of passive FIDA emission driven by edge neutrals, and to depend delicately on viewing geometry. Results are compared with theoretical expectations based on the codes NUBEAM (for fast-ion distributions) and FIDASIM. Calibrating via the measured beam emission peaks, the toroidal FIDA signal profile agrees with classical simulations in magnetohydrodynamic quiescent discharges where the neutron rate is also classical. Long-lived modes (LLMs) and chirping modes decrease the core FIDA signal significantly, and the profile can be matched closely to simulations using anomalous diffusive transport; a spatially uniform diffusion coefficient is sufficient for chirping modes, while a core localized diffusion is better for a LLM. Analysis of a discharge with chirping mode activity shows a dramatic drop in the core FIDA signal and rapid increase in the edge passive signal at the onset of the burst indicating a very rapid redistribution towards the edge. Vertical-viewing measurements show a discrepancy with simulations at higher Doppler shifts when the neutron rate is classical, which, combined with the fact that the toroidal signals agree, means that the difference must be occurring for pitch angles near the trapped-passing boundary, although uncertainties in the background subtraction, which are difficult to assess, may contribute to this. Further evidence of an anomalous transport mechanism for these particles is provided by the fact that an increase of beam power does not increase the higher energy vertical FIDA signals, while the toroidal signals do increase. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.