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09th Nov 2018

Remembering Hole In The Wall, the most savage TV show ever made

Should've just called it ATM, tbh

Ciara Knight


Between the golden years of 2008 – 2009, our lives were filled with true happiness and a real sense of purpose. CERN’s large hadron collider was finally powered up, Obama was elected as the first African-American president of the United States, Lady Gaga released her debut album and Hole In The Wall was on telly.

At a time of worldwide economic collapse, we were comforted by the sight of well-known TV personalities contorting their bodies into a variety of shapes to fit through a giant styrofoam wall, thereby escaping the threat of drowning. Basically, just good, wholesome fun.

It was a strange production, spawned from a Japanese game show called Brain Wall or ‘Human Tetris’, which had the exact same format. Dale Winton hosted the first series, with Anton du Beke and Darren Gough honourably taking up roles as team captains. It is no exaggeration to say that each and every episode of Hole In The Wall was unbridled savagery from start to finish. Ergo, exceptional television for us entertainment-hungry viewers.

Having recently found myself watching every Hole In The Wall episode currently available on YouTube for no logical reason whatsoever, a number of thoughts struck me. Pun intended. Ever the samaritan, I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

The graphics for the show were insultingly misleading as they did not accurately represent proceedings

Oh, I see. Seems like this is going to be a bit of a fun. That’s a small enough wall, certainly a navigable one for a nimble television personality. That tiny white man is slipping through the hole with great ease. Although he has no discernible facial features, you can sense that he’s smiling and content. The helmet, elbow and knee pads seem a smidge extreme, but it’s probably all for spectacle. Surely, if this is anything to go by, we’re about to watch a very enjoyable show, whereby the celebrities generous enough to give up their time will be rewarded with a bountiful cheque for their charity of choice, along with little to no serious bodily injuries. Undoubtedly, a fun and wholesome time is about to unfold.

The outfits were criminally and unnecessarily tight, bearing very little relevance to the game

Most of us could’ve gone our entire lives without seeing the precise outline of Anton du Beke’s genitals, but such is the narrative which Hole In The Wall decided to include. On some minute level, these outfits makes sense. The celebrities wouldn’t stand a chance getting through that wall if they had a big clunky belt or hood hanging loose, ready to catch on the side and maim them on live television, so skintight lycra makes sense. But did it have to be silver? Catching the light in areas where it simply didn’t need to be caught? The Hole In The Wall costume department was headed up by a sick perverted filth. That’s the only explanation for this unsightly decision that’s forever engrained in the memory of the nation.

Dale Winton proved his presenting prowess as he managed to drum up an impressive amount of enthusiasm for a slow-moving wall

Although he only presented it for the first series, Dale Winton shouting “BRING ON THE WALL” is a sound that still echoes around ITV studios in the dead of night. He was a television presenter extraordinaire, which really shone through when he somehow managed to give a stunning impression of someone that was deeply excited by the prospect of a slow-moving wall potentially drowning a celebrity. Dale presented Supermarket Sweep, the National Lottery show and Pets Win Prizes. Turning his efforts towards Hole In The Wall was like David Beckham playing five-a-side with the local corner shop employees. But Dale still handled it impeccably. As a viewer, you were convinced that the man was legitimately thrilled by the show. Pour one out for the great DW.

No matter what the wall demanded of them, the celebrities always shit themselves instantly upon its reveal

Siân Lloyd seen here losing the absolute rag upon the reveal of the first wall challenge. As we know, the walls got increasingly difficult as the show progressed, so this initial task really doesn’t merit the level of shock she’s indulging in here. Let’s break it down. To complete that exact positioning seen above, all she has to do is plonk herself down on her arse, spread her legs and arms, slightly bending at the knees. The thumbs up is optional, but would be a lovely touch if she could pull it off. The slack-jawed response is wasting time, Siân. Less live reporting, more contorting, if you can manage it. I have no doubt that the producers instructed the celebrities to ham up their responses to the wall, right after they got Pink Floyd to write a whole album about it.

The celebrities rarely committed to the exact pose required, instead wimping out with a vague replication of the gap in the wall

Siân, babe. That’s not quite the brief, is it? I’m willing to give massive props because you’ve remembered the thumbs up, but your legs need to be borderline dislocated from your body to correctly achieve the pose seen on the wall. Celebrities, always half-assing it. Also, look at the giant gap between the wall and the ground. If Siân had any brains, she would’ve simply lay flat and allowed it to pass over her. Or somehow used her bottom to propel her into the air so that she better fit the mould. Sorry to spoil the ending a cool ten years after this episode aired, but she actually made it through the wall with that pose, proving that the show was undoubtedly rigged.

Sometimes the wall just straight up fucked with the celebrities, which is exactly the correct way for this kind of savage game to play out 

Hole In The Wall had two main selling points. The first was that it forced celebrities to reveal the entire outline of their genitals thanks to its mandatory skintight lycra uniforms. The second was its instant revealing of whether your favourite television personalities were smart or incredibly thick. Within a split second of the wall challenge being revealed, you could find out whether Sam, from the beloved duo Sam & Mark, was an intelligent guy or dumb as a butternut squash. The celebrities’ reaction to the wall was usually a good gauge, followed by their ability to think quite literally on their feet. Just dive through the hole, Sam. Be the star you’ve always wanted to be.

Not even celebrities are exempt from the fear of drowning to death, which is comforting in a way

Celebrities, they’re just like you and I. They fear mortality, just like we do. For everyone, death by drowning isn’t something that’s hugely appealing. The entire premise of Hole In The Wall was to not die, basically. The inclusion of a pool of water was unnecessary. Being clobbered by a giant styrofoam wall is enough of a disincentive for failure. All they had to do was fit through the wall to avoid being knocked over. Why add in the threat of drowning? Was it to humanise celebrities? Or was it simply for sport? The whole show was ludicrous enough without this extra feature. Someone in the R&D department was out for blood. They didn’t have to go that savage. But they did that. They did it for all of us.

HITW taught us that the only thing that actually matters in life is not being stupid, or failing that, being able to conceal the fact that you are stupid

14 + 5 = 19. With all credit to Darren and Mark, they hadn’t a huge amount of time to work out the above mathematical equation as a giant wall came hurtling towards them, ready to sweep them into a giant pool of water. In this instance, it was their teammate Siân whose input was vital to their success. She stood from the comfort of the sidelines with an excitable Dale Winton standing by for emotional support. She yelped “18! 18! 18!” with the ferocity of a teen trying to help their underage friend into a club despite the bouncer’s reasonable assessment that they are, at an absolute maximum, 15 years old. Darren and Mark scurried over to the appropriate side and ended up getting swept into the murky waters behind them. Siân Lloyd fucked it. They lost everything. The other team won £10,000 for charity. She revealed herself to be both stupid and lacking the ability to experience remorse. Hole In The Wall was the most savage television show ever made. Please do not @ me.

Images via YouTube