Sport on TV: Gloves are off in battle of sexes but they are still poles apart

Click to follow

The England cricket team may have found a solution to their problem No 3 slot in time for the Ashes: Claire Taylor. Their female counterparts began the Women's World Cup (Sky Sports 1) in Australia with four consecutive wins last week, Taylor confirming her status as the world's leading batswoman. The only problem with coming in at first wicket down is she might not have enough time to get ready.

One can only imagine what the Aussies would say if they saw a Sheila striding to the crease. In a week in which the England's women footballers also reached their first final for 25 years and won it, Nathalie Cassidy's Real Britain (BBC3, Thursday) looked at members of the fairer sex who compete in male-dominated sports.

One girl who doesn't get a lot of abuse is aspiring boxer Hannah Beharry. Not only does she pack a hefty punchline, but she also used to be a doorstepper for the Jehovah's Witnesses, so she can give a lot more than she gets. And after that she became a drug dealer who liked nothing better than a good scrap on the streets.

Generally, those involved in the fight game are supportive in their own way – promoter Spencer Fearon tells her: "You would not know you were a woman". But the gender war is the least of her worries given her background, and with five brothers who have all been diagnosed as mentally ill. At the gym, she says, "I feel more of a family here than I did in a religion." The sweet science has also given her a sense of perspective. After she loses a fight, she concludes: "When you compare that to the emotional trauma I've been through, it's nothing really." She's a British champion now.

Oddly, Cassidy had begun the programme with the shallow premise: "What do you think men want in women?", and it's fair to say that boxing skills and scars may not be high on the list of priorities, unless it happens to be former model Sarah Blewden, whose dreams of glory at London 2012 were dashed last month when she was banned from boxing because her breast implants posed a health risk. Cassidy's second case study, Sam Remmer, might be a bit closer to the mark given her chosen "sport", pole dancing.

Sam introduces herself with the words: "I don't simulate masturbation." She is on a mission to convince the public that pole dancing is actually all about fitness, but when it comes to qualifying for the World Championships – no, really – she has to compete against a field made up entirely of bona fide strippers; and a Russian ballerina.

The event is introduced by a dirty old man who shouts: "Girls on poles – what more could you ask for?" Sam is fighting a losing battle, and it doesn't help when she falls off.

"I admire the fact that Sam and Hannah have got the balls to change things," Cassidy concludes, but you can't help thinking she's got the wrong end of the pole.