I was looking at my site logs yesterday, and I noticed that a few people have recently come here via search engines, wanting to know why Gene Hunt calls Alex Drake “Balls” or “Bowls” in the show Ashes to Ashes.
Actually, it’s “Bols”, and it’s short for “Bollinger Knickers”.
When Alex first arrived in the 1981 universe, she repeatedly told her co-workers about her multiple college degrees and the time she spent training with the FBI in Quantico, Virginia. Remember that she’s a well-educated hostage negotiator and psychological profiler for the Metropolitan Police in her 2008 life. She also used a variety of now commonplace criminal profiling terms, none of which were known to the police in 1981.
This was all very high-brow stuff for her fellow blue collar officers in 1981, so Gene started calling her “Bollinger Knickers” (“Bollinger” is a brand of champagne and “knickers” are women’s underwear in British slang). So it’s a sarcastic way of calling her “fancy pants”.
Over time, Gene has shortened it to “Bolly” or just “Bols”.