Balls of Steel (TV series)

Balls of Steel is a British television comedy game show hosted by Mark Dolan. Dolan's special guests perform stunts and hold their nerve during hidden camera set-ups in the presence of celebrities or the British public.

Balls of Steel
Presented byMark Dolan
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series3
No. of episodes19 (list of episodes)
Running time50 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production companyObjective Productions
Original release
NetworkChannel 4
Release19 August 2005 (2005-08-19) –
25 April 2008 (2008-04-25)

Massive Balls of Steel, the spin-off series to Balls of Steel, was broadcast on E4, showing highlights of the show.



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 he is in the company of his girlfriend, to provoke a reaction from her. Thaila is young, slim, pretty, flirtatious and usually wears provocative clothes. Entry music: "Lovefool" by The Cardigans. One Three 8
Michael "Pancho" Locke
Mathew Pritchard
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 catchprase: "There's only one way to find out, Mark". One Three 11
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, Lee takes on a "henchman" who signs inappropriate remarks to celebrities during interviews while she gives incorrect translations. Entry music: "Girls on Film" by Duran Duran. One Three 10
Jason Attar 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 "muddy buckets"), disseminating rude messages in various forms, and offering products or services with an evil twist. One One 8
Barrie Hall Two Three 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 film premiere 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: "Sometimes" by Erasure (season 1), "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" by Culture Club (season 2 & 3) 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, white wine and the non-existence of black wine, 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
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
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
Jonathan Goodwin Escapologist Attempts dangerous escapes with help from his father. Two Two 1
Kelly Burgess
Tony Parsons
The Fuckers Perform simulated[citation needed] 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
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
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 whisky 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
Ross Mailer Knob Jockey A small, camp, gay man who 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


Series Start date End date Episodes
1 19 August 2005 30 September 2005 7
2 16 February 2007 23 March 2007 6
3 21 March 2008 25 April 2008 6

Balls of Steel internationally


UK version broadcasts


It aired on The Comedy Channel in Australia in 2011 and 2013 and in the past, has also been shown on the Nine Network. 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.

Local versions


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.

A Finnish version of the show is in production with Jukka and Jarppi of The Dudesons playing the part of 'The Pain Men'.[citation needed][when?]

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 and running for an initial ten episodes. 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.[1] Due to the success of season one, a second season was produced with new and existing acts, and premiered on 31 January 2012.

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.[citation needed]



Even before it was broadcast, Balls of Steel received an enormous amount of publicity during the London premiere of the film War of the Worlds; its leading actor Tom Cruise was squirted with a water pistol disguised as a microphone as a part of Olivia Lee's Prank TV segment. Cruise expressed his disdain, calling the prankster a "jerk" and later saying in a press conference: "There are bullies, people who like to make people feel less and feel bad. Those people need to be confronted. In my life I have never felt something like that is funny."[2] However, it was not Olivia Lee who squirted Tom Cruise with water – the prank was performed by producer Michael Livingstone.[3] Livingstone and three others from the crew were arrested after pranking Cruise but were later released on bail.[4] However, Cruise did not press charges, with his publicist saying, "These guys aren’t worth the time or energy".[5]

Cruise's reaction was not as extreme as that of Sharon Osbourne in an identical stunt several weeks before; she reacted by throwing a bucket of water over their camera. Osbourne was said to have offered Cruise's lawyers the paperwork covering her parallel incident.[6] Osbourne also called for all celebrities to boycott Channel 4; however, her boycott did not last, as she herself has appeared on the channel many times since – including being guest host of The Friday Night Project in 2007.

Others who were squirted with a water pistol included Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden.[7] Sveriges Television, where the Swedish version Ballar av stål was going to air, decided to cancel the show after massive criticism.[8] 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. Some complaints were directed at the Annoying Devil for his roller coaster stunt where he threw buckets of "vomit" at the passengers.[9] Balls of Steel responded to OFCOM saying that the vomit used by the Annoying Devil was fake and a disclaimer was added when the episode was repeated. A further complaint to OFCOM was not upheld when the show explained that the "victims" in Neg Dupree's Big Stranger Rodeo Urban Sports segment had been "set up".[10] Barrie Hall, who played the Annoying Devil in series two and three, said in an interview that "just about everyone we 'get' has been set up by friends!"[11]

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.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Balls of Steel Australia on THE COMEDY CHANNEL. Available on Foxtel". Archived from the original on 26 September 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Tom Cruise Won't Press Charges in Prank". People.
  3. ^ "Cruise will not report the water splash". NRK.
  4. ^ "Cruise will not report the water splash". NRK.
  5. ^ "Tom Cruise Won't Press Charges in Prank". People.
  6. ^ "Sharon Osbourne Vows To Help Tom Cruise". Gigwise.
  7. ^ "Security Service reports TV crew for Reinfeldt attack – The Local". 23 May 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Nyheter - DN.SE". Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Ofcom | Broadcast Bulletin Issue number 49 - 05|12|05". Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Ofcom | Broadcast Bulletin Issue number 49 - 05|12|05". Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Unbelievab-Al!". Chronicle Live.