Grace Dent on TV: Bodyshock: The Man with the 10-Stone Testicles, Channel 4

It's rude to gawk, but there's something worthwhile in these stop-and-stare documentaries

Like most people, I've often pondered on the natural splendour and aesthetic perfection of male testicles and sighed, “If only… oh, if ONLY I could see what a scrotal sack looks like when blown up to the dimensions of a Space Hopper, weighing around 140lbs, its skin tones resembling the surface of the Moon.” It's the television dream we all dream. Thankfully – due to the unique way Britain makes prime-time educational documentaries for wholly non-comedic purposes – on Monday night Britain was allotted this chance.

Upbeat, affable 49-year-old Las Vegas resident Wesley Warren Jnr, we learned, was living with a rare medical affliction of the groin. His tale began one night in late 2008 when he knocked his testicles accidentally while turning over in bed. First, Wesley felt a sharp shooting pain, then tissues around his testicles began to swell and inflate. Then they inflated some more. And then a bit more still. First to the size of grapefruit, then to a watermelon, then bigger than a portable television and, by the time we met him, his balls resembled a small planet with a sad, panicked penis floating about atop. Wesley, I thought, was a bit like a character in a Roald Dahl manuscript which his editor would hand back with one big red cross on it and a note: “No, Roald. Just no. Wesley's Enormous Nutsack will not do for the Puffin Club.”

Eventually Wesley's balls grew so ridiculously massive that he could no longer wear trousers. Well, he could possibly have worn MC Hammer's trousers, but we all know how protective Hammer is about people touching his stuff. You just can't. Soon Wesley was almost immobile. In fact, if he wanted to move his testicles around the house, he had to hoist them up in a large beach towel and hoist them onto available surfaces like milk crates or small shelves. There was a lot of hoisting in this hour. Wesley's lack of clothes and therefore lack of dignity began to bother me. In all of Wesley's futile trips to doctors – where they would scratch their heads mumbling, “Ooh, um, this is bad isn't it?” – not one person gave him the number of someone with a sewing machine who could whip him up a ball-covering smock. Ah, America, land of the free, home of the brave, a place where if your testicles swell up and you don't have the requiste health insurance, no one really cares if you have to wrap them in an outsized Gap hooded top with the zipper up, so your scrotum looks like ET on Halloween.

Despite my jokes – my policy during all tough times is 'you laugh or you cry' – I have mixed feelings about TV shows such as this. By the first ad break, this episode of Bodyshocks had amassed so many gawpers – I mean, 'amateur medical enthusiasts' – who had opened laptops and taken to Twitter to type 'look at the size of those spuds', that I had concern for the stability of the national grid. But it's far too easy to write Wesley's tale off as plainly voyeuristic and exploitative, when there are subtler ideas present. Our bodies often behave in a beastly, seeping, swelling, fetid, obnoxious manner. It's good to remember this in the face of non-stop The Only Way Is Essex-style 'No Carbs Till Marbs' perfection. In a world of 'post-pregnancy snap-back diets' and the norm of whitening one's teeth to the colour of a Star Wars lightsabre, it's useful to be reminded that our bodies aren't ours to truly tame or control.

As a viewer, one began the journey beholding Wesley's monstrous condition and, by default, treating Wesley as something of a monster too. But Wesley wasn't an ogre or a bogeyman– he was blatantly delightful. He was a big-hearted, daft-humoured man with many pals who doted on him. Gosh, life can be mean, creepy and completely unfair. Why should Wesley die of a treatable condition in a poky Las Vegas apartment when expensive doctors down the road could save him?

Wesley's tale was an unflinching look at the reality of today's American healthcare system.By the end of the first half-hour, Britain was standing firm behind Wesley in his struggle to get rid of his giant balls. It took a gang of philanthropic surgeons almost 24 hours of chopping, stitching and sculpting to cut away the mass but eventually, with a massive cheer, the theatre crew carted the balls away on a trolley. We didn't find out what happened to Wesley's ex-testicles, but I like to imagine a really annoying medical student woke up wearing them as a hat. Wesley was left sedated where he slept for 48 hours, which worried doctors.

But then he opened his eyes and smiled, proving, for me at least, that F Scott Fitzgerald's notion of American lives having “no second acts” was frankly a load of balls.

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...