Balls Of Steel, Channel 4

by | Aug 19, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

It was, hahahahahaha, no you’ll have to come back to me. I’ll try again; it was so funny,

heeeeeeeeeeheeeeeeeeeee. It’s no good, chortle, chortle, chortle, Balls of Steel is just toooooo funny for words.

What to say if you didn’t like it

If the human race devolved to just bags of skin with eyes, this is what they’d watch.

What was good about it?

• As a window cleaner proudly wiped the last part of a shop front clean of grime, the Annoying Devil chucked a bucket of “shit” over it. As he ran away cackling, a passer-by jumped him bringing him to the ground. The Devil’s humour rapidly dissipated as he bleated: “You don’t have to kill me over it.” So, while it’s fine to repulse and harm other people, the Balls of Steel gang expect impunity from reasonable reactions to their japes because they’re on TV? And what made it especially ironic was that the passer-by leapt on the Devil by grabbing around his neck, which just happened to be the gag for Big Stranger Rodeo when “Neg” would do the same with “big strangers”. The audience laughed raucously at Neg’s jape, while the Devil’s assault was greeted with sincere, concerned “oooh”s.

• School bullies at last have a show where they can vicariously live out their former lives of violence, persecution and spite as they sit in their single room bedsit, viewing as some respite from picking bluebottles off the flypaper, cleaning their windows with their own urine and licking the mould from their crockery.

• When the show finished the menu for the rest of the evening’s viewing was soundtracked by Arcade Fire’s Lies.

What was bad about it?

• Host Mark Dolan looks and acts like a slab of lamb tossed carelessly on to a shelf ready to be skewered and trimmed to provide rancid sustenance as kebab meat.

• Alex Zane, the smuggest man on television, and his unoriginal Buzzin’ Game in which a contestant was stitched up with a faulty buzzer. Much hilarity ensued.

• The manner in which Dolan and the various “jokers” snidely analyse their jape afterward, providing no insight or illumination.

• Dolan to Zane: “Well done, Alex!” Well done for what? Zane stood like a hollowed out chimney occasionally piping platitudes while a goon in a t-shirt got angry that he’d been swindled in a fake TV quiz. And Zane won the audience vote for the most hilarious stunt of the night, just to rub salt in our wounds.

• The Annoying Devil putting “dog turds” across the pedestrian path on a London bridge. It obviously wasn’t real excrement for health and safety reasons and so the flaccid joke epitomized the whole show.

• After the Big Stranger Rodeo, Dolan warned sardonically: “We must legally say, do not copy Neg’s actions.” The fact that they must caution against this mimicry because of “legal” reasons suggests they do not endorse such spoilsporting, enabling them to maintain their maverick status whilst simultaneously satisfying the lawyers. Of course, kids won’t take any notice and “Big Stranger Rodeo” will become Britain’s sixth popular pastime by about 9pm next Friday. We expect Neg will be happy slapping old ladies next week so we can have another laugh.

• As Dolan introduced the Pain Men, it initially seemed it was going to be a sub-Dirty Sanchez troupe. In fact, it was worse. It was Dirty Sanchez; at least two of them. Their act centres on doing nothing more than inflicting pain, antics performed with more élan by the Jim Rose Circus, while Laurel And Hardy’s comedy set in an industrial carpenters possessed a wit and timing infinitely above anything Pritchard and Pancho

could muster.

• Olivia Lee’s celebrity interviews. After her piece, Dolan said of the audience: “They love seeing celebrities get shafted!” Wrong. The only people deserving of such derision and scorn are those such as Paris Hilton. And while those gangrenous scabs were the occasional witless target of Lee’s witless attempted humiliation, interviewing the elegant and accomplished Charlotte Rampling with the legend “bucket fanny” affixed to the blind side of the microphone with an arrow pointing at her was cruel and gratuitous.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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