Series / Balls of Steel
A British Reality Show
where a group of comedians competed to see who had the biggest "balls of steel"
as judged by the Studio Audience
. This was done by performing some type of stunt that shows guts — most of the time, they were elaborate, hidden camera pranks
that crossed the line
frequently (one recurring act always did their acts on-stage for the audience instead).
The show was a cult hit for Channel 4, lasting for three seasons and 19 episodes. An Australian version debuted in 2011 and ran for two seasons; as it still features some of the acts who appeared on the British version, you could call it a strange case of being Un-Cancelled in a completely different country
Recurring acts on the show included:
- Bunny Boiler, where Thaila Zucchi tries to flirt with someone ... in front of their existing girlfriend. (They were set up, of course)
- The Annoying Devil, where the titular devil (Jason Attar in series 1, and Barrie Hall in series 2) just goes around causing trouble
- Prank TV with Miss Lee, with Olivia Lee. Often involves squirting water at celebrities.
- Militant Black Guy, who leads people into saying completely innocent terms containing the word "black", and then goes Samuel L. Jackson on them for being "racist."
- Neg's Urban Sports, where Neg Dupree performs various activities of questionable taste under the guise of being a "sport", including trying to steal balls, throwing fast food at random people, or trying to ride on their backs!
- The Pain Men, where Pancho and Pritchard inflict pain on each other. Notably, its pretty much the only act that is actually performed on-stage.
- Big Gay Following, where Eric Page tries to pick up and solicit sex from other men.
- Alex Zane, who sets people up on rigged game shows.
While some acts did cross over to the aforementioned Australian version (and some were Foreign Remakes
of acts/bits from the British version, but ), some new acts came in as well, including:
- Janis McGavin, the Fame Whore, who masquerades as a celebrity doing ridiculous publicity stunts.
- Flatmate Wanted, Rachael Coopes offers to share an apartment with unsuspecting individuals, but "inadvertently" reveals an unusual fact about herself that might change their mind.
- The Very Foreign Correspondent, an Indian who goes undercover to try and expose the country's racial tensions against Indians. And he constantly accuses people of being racist (gee, does that sound familiar)
- And of course, they've had their Alex Zane-styled game show pranks as well (known as The Game Show Host from Hell, this time with actual game show hosts); James Kerley in season 1 (host of Cash Cab), and John Burgess (host of Catch-Phrase) in season 2.
This series provides examples of:
- Berserk Button: The idea behind Militant Black Guy.
- Big Guy Rodeo: One of Neg's Urban Sports almost uses this exact trope name. The sport is called Big Stranger Rodeo, and is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Don't Try This At Home: The point of The Pain Men. They do it, so you don't have to!
- Jerkass: Pretty much the whole point of Annoying Devil.
- Leitmotif: All of the main recurring acts have their own theme music; Alex Zane often entered to AC/DC, Olivia Lee had Duran Duran, Militant Black Guy had that "Fight the Power" song, etc.
- Parody: Most of Alex Zane's shows are parodies of other game shows:
- Alex Zane's Sex Contract Game is a parody of Blind Date (a.k.a. The Dating Game), except that the 2 bachelors have apparently signed "legally-binding contracts" stating that the winner must have sex with the bachelorette later after the show. Now of course, Zane also made sure the victims got a sneak peak of the bachlorette, given that he pulls a Bait-and-Switch by replacing her with an unattractive-looking woman right before the reveal.
- Say What You See with Me, AZ is mainly a parody of the "You Say We Pay" game from Richard & Judy with a title referencing Catch-Phrase
- The Aussie version did this one with John Burgess as Burgo's Big Picture Game (made even funnier by the fact that he actually hosted the Australian version of Catch Phrase; thus referenced with "Phrase Catch" and "Say What You See" rounds)
- Alex Zane's Cleverness Game features "ordinary people with an extraordinary knowledge of one subject." This one is probably his most blatant parody. Ray Ward, one of the contestants he duped, actually did end up appearing on the real Mastermind a few months afterward using the same subject (Anne Frank).
- And then, his catchphrase "Nice to see you, yes it is" is a parody of Bruce Forsyth's famous catchphrase "Nice to see you, to see you... (Nice!)"
- On the Aussie version, James Kerley similarly got back into the driver's seat of the Car of Cash; it didn't have joke questions, but did have Kerley frequently stopping to perform bizarre diversions.
- Rules Spiel: In Say What You See with Me, AZ, "All you need to do is get the picture from the screen, to your eyes, to your brain, to your mouth, to my ears, to my brain, then to my mouth. It's that simple"
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: The Fuckers.
- Separated by a Common Language: Invoked by a Alex Zane Spelling Game set in the U.S., where an American contestant trips up on being asked to spell the word "color" because Zane was actually looking for the British spelling ("colour")
- Spell My Name with a "The": Common with Alex Zane's game shows, which were often titled "The Alex Zane [verb] Game"
- The Unintelligible: Whenever one of Neg's Urban Sports requires him to get some attention and/or freak people out, he'll generally start shouting random gibberish.
- Unwinnable by Design: All of Alex Zane's rigged game shows are like this. Without it, there wouldn't be a point.