- Balls of Steel (TV series)
Balls of Steel Format Comedy / Reality-TV Developed by Objective Productions Starring Mark Dolan Country of origin United Kingdom No. of episodes 19 (List of episodes) Production Running time 50 minutes (35 mins without commercials.) Broadcast Original channel Channel 4 Picture format 16:9 Original run 19 August 2005 – 25 April 2008 External links Website
Balls of Steel is a Channel 4 comedy series developed by Objective Productions and hosted by Mark Dolan, his special guests would perform stunts and hold their nerve during hidden camera set-ups in the presence of celebrities or the British public.
There were a total of 12 acts. In each episode, six acts competed with one of them being the winner from the previous episode. At the end of each episode the studio audience had to decide which act had the biggest 'Balls of Steel' by voting on a keypad. The Balls of Steel format is distributed internationally by DRG.
There were various acts seen frequently on the show, presented by the regular performers.
Performer(s) Segment name Gimmick First series Last series Times appeared Alex Zane Alex Zane's ... Game Presents a fake game show that either makes the victim undergo very unfair disadvantages or gives an unfair advantage to another player, normally a stooge. The twists take various forms, including expecting contestants to identify something from inadequate information, deliberately mishearing contestants' answers, and using such props as faulty buzzers or fake lie detectors. Entry music: The Power by Snap! and Back in Black by AC/DC. One Three 16 Thaila Zucchi Bunny Boiler Flirts with a man whilst in the company of his girlfriend to provoke a reaction from her. Thaila is conventionally attractive and usually wears provocative clothes. Entry music: Lovefool by The Cardigans. One Three 8 Michael Locke Pain Men Two men going by the names Pancho and Pritchard deliberately inflict extreme pain on themselves or each other, an act similar to the duo's previous TV show Dirty Sanchez. This is the only segment to frequently take place within the Balls of Steel studio, rather than being shown on the video screen. During this act, host Mark Dolan usually asks the pair if there is a risk of some kind of serious injury arising from whatever activity they are partaking of, leading to the act's famous catchline "There's only one way to find out, Mark". One Three 11 Matthew Pritchard Olivia Lee Prank TV with Miss Lee Plays minor practical jokes on celebrities, utilising such props as microphones that resemble genitals or squirt water. This section gained press coverage before the show aired due to Tom Cruise's reaction to the latter gag, although that particular prank was not performed by Olivia Lee herself but by a producer. In an episode in series three, Olivia takes on a "henchman" who signs inappropriate remarks to celebrities during interviews while Olivia gives incorrect translations. Entry music: Girls on Film by Duran Duran. One Three 10 Barrie Hall The Annoying Devil Wears a devil costume and annoys the general public in various ways. His pranks include disrupting people's work or leisure activities (e.g. driving a motor boat down a river when people are trying to fish) making public places or vehicles dirty (sometimes using fake faeces), disseminating rude messages in various forms, and offering products or services with an evil twist. Two Three 8 Jason Attar One One 5 Neg Dupree Neg's Urban Sports Plays 'Urban Sports', which have included: Urban Sprinting (running from security guards); Burger Bowl Off (throwing fast food at bystanders); Make Em Move (trying to make someone leave a place without making physical contact); My Ball (taking balls from a local game of sport); and Big Stranger Rodeo (jumping onto the backs of unsuspecting passers-by). This is the most controversial act of them all. However in the second series this is less controversial, because the people in his sketches are now being set up by their friends. Still, Neg was arrested during Red Carpet Run in Series 3, when he gatecrashed a Will Smith movie premier in London. One Three 13 Eric Page Big Gay Following Treats men as potential pick-ups, scares them and solicits gay sex from them, often via the phrase "fancy a bum?" Only once (by Chris Moyles) has the answer been "Yes". Entry music: Do You Really Want to Hurt Me by Culture Club One Three 8 Toju Okorodudu Militant Black Guy Discomforts people, mainly members of the public at work, by accusing them of racism at every opportunity. Usually, this consists of deliberately mistaking the name of something for a racial slur. Examples have included "Black Forest gateau", the All Blacks rugby strip, Isle of Wight, garden 'hoes', "Cocoon" and "raccoon" for containing "coon", and the fact that white moves first in chess. Entry music: Fight the Power by Public Enemy (season 1 & 2), The Message by Grandmaster Flash (season 3). One Three 7 Tim Shaw Mr. Inappropriate Does inappropriate things in public, such as teaching foreign students offensive phrases, reading a pornographic magazine on the Tube or selling double glazing at 4:00AM. Two Three 5 Carla Lynch Scummy Mummy A "Bad parent"; does exactly the opposite of what a good mother would do, such as smoking when pretending to be pregnant, pretending to give whiskey to a baby, taking a small child to inappropriate places, and acts such as pretending her water has broken all over an unsuspecting victim. Three Three 3 Laurence Rickard The Bastard in Black A strict and unreasonable football official, who referees genuine matches whilst making humorous decisions that do normally not correspond to the laws of football. Three Three 1 Paul Tilliard Knob Jockey Rides men for as long as possible, with commentary resembling that of a real horse race. This act resembles Neg's Urban Sports, specifically Neg's Big Stranger Rodeo. The men being "ridden" are actually set up by their friends. Three Three 1 Chris Stapp Randy Cambell's stunts "New Zealand's top stuntman" performs daring stunts that inevitably go dangerously wrong. The only fictional segment of the show, it's essentially a comedy sketch but presented 'as real', previously seen on Back of the Y. One One 5 Robin Huxtable Naked Man Goes on country walks and visits public places while in the nude. Presumably a parody of the naked rambler. One One 2 Dawn Porter Man Tester Picks up a single man in a bar before 'inadvertently' revealing some unusual fact about herself (for example, that she works for a sex chat line, taking the call right in front of him) and seeing whether he continues flirting or makes excuses. One One 3 Ross Lee The World's Worst Takes up various jobs or roles - only to make him the worst ever. This includes being a barman, cabbie and stealing cash off unsuspecting customers. One One 2 Jonathan Goodwin Escapologist Attempts dangerous escapes with help from his father. Two Two 1 Kelly Burgess The Fuckers Perform simulated sexual intercourse in a range of unacceptable places such as in a house while being shown round by an estate agent or in a Land Rover showroom. They were once stopped by the police while simulating sex on a boat on the River Thames. Two Two 3 Tony Parsons Jenni Davies The Penis Fly Trap Gets into an awkward situation to attract men's help. She then accuses them of taking advantage, using such expressions as "Are you looking at my tits?" Two Two 1
Overall three series were aired. 19 episodes were made, seven in series 1, six in series 2 and another six in series 3.
Episode Airdate Performer(s) Segment name Number
Series 1 1 19 August 2005 Alex Zane Alex Zane's Buzzin' Game 1st 2 26 August 2005 Jason Attar The Annoying Devil 1st 3 2 September 2005 Michael Locke
Pain Men 1st 4 9 September 2005 Toju Okorodudu Militant Black Guy 1st 5 16 September 2005 Thaila Zucchi Bunny Boiler 1st 6 23 September 2005 Olivia Lee Prank TV with Miss Lee 1st 7 30 September 2005 Jason Attar The Annoying Devil 2nd Series 2 1 16 February 2007 Neg Dupree Neg's Burger Bowl Off 1st 2 23 February 2007 Eric Page Big Gay Following 1st 3 2 March 2007 Toju Okorodudu Militant Black Guy 2nd 4 9 March 2007 Tony Parsons
The Fuckers 1st 5 16 March 2007 Olivia Lee Prank TV with Miss Lee 2nd 6 23 March 2007 Barrie Hall The Annoying Devil 3rd Series 3 1 23 March 2008 Eric Page Big Gay Following 2nd 2 28 March 2008 Tim Shaw Mr. Inappropriate 1st 3 4 April 2008 Barrie Hall The Annoying Devil 4th 4 11 April 2008 Michael Locke
Pain Men 2nd 5 18 April 2008 Alex Zane Alex Zane's Heart Rate Game 2nd 6 25 April 2008 Michael Locke
Pain Men 3rd
Massive Balls of Steel
Massive Balls of Steel is a show broadcast on E4 in 2008 where contestants show their best clips from all three series as voted for by the public.
Balls of Steel internationally
UK version broadcasts
It currently (as of March 2011) airs on The Comedy Channel in Australia at 9:30 pm Tuesday nights and has also been shown on the Nine Network in the past. In Latin America, it is broadcast on Sony Entertainment Television, in New Zealand on C4, in Germany on RTL II, in Denmark on TV 2 Zulu, in Portugal on SIC Radical, Norway on TV2 Zebra, in Sweden on Kanal 5, in Poland on TVN, in the Netherlands on RTL 5, and in Russia on 2x2.
In January 2007, a pilot for an American version hosted by J. Keith van Straaten was taped for the A&E network, but was not picked up for production.
During early 2007, an Italian adaptation of the format was aired on Rai Due, this version lasted just one season and wasn't picked up for a second season due to very poor ratings. The show featured local versions of the original skits such as Sexy Lisa, which was an adaptation from Bunny Boiler.
An Australian version of the show, Balls of Steel Australia was put into production in Sydney in late 2010 and premiered on the Australian subscription television channel The Comedy Channel on 19 April 2011, hosted by The Chaser's Craig Reucassel. It was the highest rating show in the history of The Comedy Channel, doubling the ratings of the previous record holder The Merrick and Rosso Show. Ten episodes in total have been produced. The series stars Neg Dupree, reprising his Urban Sports segment from the UK version, as well as Australian versions of The Annoying Devil and Bunny Boiler. New characters include Nude Girl, James Kerley as the Game Show Host from Hell, Janis McGavin as Fame Whore, Very Foreign Correspondent, Flatmate Wanted and Just Come Out.
A Swedish version of the show has been shown on Swedish Channel 5 in the springs of 2009, 2010 and 2011. It was first produced for the Swedish public service broadcaster SVT, but cancelled since a participant sprayed water in the face of prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Even before it was broadcast, Balls of Steel was given an enormous amount of publicity during the London premiere for the film War of the Worlds. Its leading man Tom Cruise was squirted with a water pistol disguised as a microphone as part of one of the programme's various stunts or practical jokes. Cruise expressed his disdain but his reaction was not as excessive as that of Sharon Osbourne in an identical stunt several weeks before; she reacted by throwing a bucket of water over one of the team's camera men, ruining the camera.
Others who have been attacked include Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden. Sveriges Television, where the Swedish version Ballar av stål was going to air, decided to cancel the show after massive criticism against it. But the show was picked up in 2008 by the Swedish network Kanal 5. The show has also had its fair share of complaints from viewers. One target is the 'Annoying Devil' in which he performs extreme acts on members of the public. Some complaints were directed at his roller coaster stunt where he threw (false) bags of vomit at the passengers.
The programme returned for a further series in 2007, for which its makers appealed for contestants for a pilot quiz show on an established quiz site. At least one participant rumbled the deceit almost immediately during filming on 10 June 2006, but despite his queries the makers refused to admit that the quiz was a hoax until the "broadcast" was over. Series 3 began airing on Channel 4 on 21 March 2008.
However, despite harsh criticism, Balls of Steel keeps coming back by popular demand - as witnessed by the return of Balls of Steel to Channel Nine in Australia in September to the prime late night time slot. This occurred just 3 months after the Sydney Morning Herald's Michael Idato panned the show as being "puerile" in an online review (26 May 2008)
On Neg Dupree's website, the third series of Balls of Steel was referred to as the 'last ever'; however, this is yet to be officially confirmed or refuted.
Neg has launched a petition to get his own show, although whether this will go ahead with Channel 4 is unknown. Neg's Australian fansite has also launched its petition to try and get Neg to launch his own show in Australia, rather than the UK.
- ^ http://www.dudesons.com/main.site?action=news/view&id=246&ngid=1
- ^ http://www.thecomedychannel.com.au/WhatsOn/Detail.aspx?id=459
- ^ The Local on 23 May 2007
- ^ Dagens Nyheter on 1 June 2007
- ^ Ofcom  Broadcast Bulletin Issue Number 49, accessed 13th August 2011
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