Balls dropped

Prank show hits problems worldwide

Plans for an American version of Channel 4 prank show Balls Of Steel look set to be dropped – because it would be too expensive to insure.

The A&E cable network bought the rights to the show, had made two pilot editions and was reportedly set to move ahead with a full series.

However producers found the insurance premiums to protect them from paying out if they were sued would be too high in litigation-happy America.

The flurry of lawsuits lodged against Sacha Baron Cohen following the Borat movie is thought to have highlighted the problem, according to Hollywood trade paper Variety.

The UK programme, hosted by Mark Dolan was most famous for squirting water at Tom Cruise on the red carpet of a movie premiere, attracting his ire.

Other stunts include the ‘urban rodeo,’ in which a prankster jumps on a stranger's back and tries to stay on as long as possible. And in one of the US scenes, a female yoga instructor chats up man in front of his girlfriend.

Variety reports that other US networks are interested in taking up the show if A&E drops it.

Meanwhile, work on the Swedish version has also been stopped, following widespread criticism of a practical joke involving Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

In a repeat of the Tom Cruise parnk, a woman posing as a television reporter squirted water at the prime minister with a trick microphone at the premiere of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

The woman was called in for questioning by the Swedish Security Service.

A spokesman for state broadcaster STV, which was to air the series, said: ‘We should take a break from recording. Every joke, however innocuous, is considered provocative right now.’

A fake theft at a Stokholm shopping mall also attracted criticism.

Published: 24 Jun 2007

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