Communication is a Virus: Balls of Steel- TV prank shows.
Balls of Steel was a Channel 4 series hosted by Mark Dolan, in which his special guests would perform stunts and hold their nerve during hidden camera set-ups in the presence of celebrities or the British public.
Throughout the show's running 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 deided which act had the biggest "Balls of Steel" by voting on electronic keypads.
The acts and performers were as follows...
Alex Zane's...Game: Presents a fake game show that either makes the victim undergo very fair 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 constestants' answers, and using such props as faulty buzzers or lie dectectors.
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.
Michael Locke and Matthew 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 Sanches. 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 they are partaking of, leading to the act's famous catchline "There's only one way to find out Mark..."
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 innapropriate remarks to celebrities during interviews while Olivia gives incorrect translations.
Barry Hall/The Annoying Devil: Wears a devil costume and annoys the general public in various ways. His pranks include disturbing 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.
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 on unsuspecting passers-by)- this being the most controversial act of them all. Neg was arrested during Red Carpet Run in Series 3, when he gatecrashed a Will Smith movie premier in London.
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 DJ Chris Moyles) has the answer been "Yes".
Toju Okorodudu/Militant Black Guy: Discomforts people, mainly members of the public at work, by accusing them of racism at every oppurtunity. 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.
Tim Shaw/Mr. Inappropraite: Does inapproppriate things in public, such as teaching foregin students offensive phrases, reading a pornographic magazine on the Tube or selling double glazing at 4am.
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.
Laurence Rickard/The Bastard in Black: A strict and unreasonable football official, who referees genuine matches whilst making humourous decisions that do normally not correspond to the laws of football.
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, specificially Neg's Big Stranger Rodeo. The men being "ridden" are actaully set up by their friends.
Chris Strapp/Randy Campbell's Stunts: "New Zelanad's top stuntman" performs daring stunts have inevitably go dangerously wrong. The only ficitonal segment of the show, it's essentially a comedy sketch but presented "as real", previously seen on Back of the Y.
Robin Huxtable/Naked Man: Goes on country walks and visits public places while in the nude. Presumably a parody of the naked rambler.
Dawn Porter/Man Tester: Picks up a 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.
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.
Joanthan Goodwin/Escapologist: Attempts dangerous escapes with her from his father.
Kelly Burgess and Tony Parsons/The Fuckers: Perform stimulated sexual intercourse in a range of uncacceptable places such as a house while being shown round by an estate agent or in a Land Rover showroom. They were once stopped by police while simulating sex on a boat on the River Thames.
Jenni Davis/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?" or "Can i touch your body you flirty pepperhead?"
Growing up with watching 'Balls of Steel' it was an instant source of inspiration when considering performing pranks and April Fools' tricks as part of our project development.
I felt particularly inspired by The Annoying Devil when considering the variety of pranks we had to offer- perhaps not so outlandingsly outrageous or cruel, but with the same innovation, creativeness and addition of props.