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Gladiators ready! Who are they and how you can watch the BBC revival

A reboot of the popular TV show Gladiators is returning to the BBC this weekend (Handout)
A reboot of the popular TV show Gladiators is returning to the BBC this weekend (Handout)

The reboot of the 1990s show Gladiators is back this weekend for its comeback series.

The 11-episode run, fronted by father and son duo Bradley and Barney Walsh, will pit a new generation of “superhumans” against contestants in the “ultimate test of speed and strength”.

Modern-day Gladiators comes with the same logo, theme tune, format, bold outfits and interesting athlete names as the original, which was presented by Ulrika Jonsson and aired for eight seasons between 1992 and 2000 on ITV.

Here’s everything you need to know about the reboot.

How to watch Gladiators

Gladiators will be aired on BBC1 and BBC iPlayer across 11 hour-long episodes. It will include new games as well as classic challenges, and each episode will end with a fan favourite. The first episode airs on Saturday January 13 at 5.50pm.

Who are the contestants?

Giant

Standing at 6ft 5in, Giant is a former firefighter turned professional bodybuilder called Jamie Christian Johal who made history by becoming one of the all-time tallest bodybuilders.

“I feel like everything in life has lead [sic] me here,” he said of joining the show. “I’m honoured to be part of this iconic show that I watched as a child. I’ll be bringing my GIANT stature and personality, so contenders better come prepared!”

Fire

Former Team GB sprinter and Olympic bobsledder Montell Douglas held the British woman’s record for fastest 100m sprint at 11.05 seconds. She is joining the programme as Fire.

In 2022, Douglas made history by becoming the first female UK athlete to compete at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

In 2016, she took up bobsleigh and became part of the Great Britain two-woman bobsleigh team the following year.

Legend

Legend, or Matt Morsia, is a former Championship bronze-medal-winning long and triple jumper and silver-medal-winning powerlifter.

Now a fitness influencer with more than 355 million views on YouTube, he is known for his funny, honest and informative fitness advice and videos. In 2020, he released his first book, The 24/7 Body.

Electro

Jade Packer is said to have earned her nickname from her "electrifying" agility.and is now a bodybuilder and CrossFit enthusiast.

She said: "I dabbled in many sports as a kid before finding my first love in athletics where my journey as an athlete truly began. From sprinting, to bodybuilding, to CrossFit; stepping into each world was inspired by watching others do their thing and I wouldn’t be where I am today without a vision of what could potentially be possible for me – I hope Electro can spark that unstoppable pursuit for a new generation."

Bionic

Matty Campbell was reportedly an avid football player before a car crash put an end to his plans. Instead, he turned his attention to the gym, where he was able to make some impressive gains in strength.

Reflecting on his casting in the show, Matty said: "Never in a million years did I expect to get the call to be a Gladiator, it's a feeling that’ll never sink in. I’m just a normal lad from Teesside. All the training and hard work has finally paid off for me, I can’t wait to get started."

Phantom

Toby Olubi is a British bobsledder, sprinter and Olympian turned Gladiator. He earned his name due to his speed and agility, and he's a fan of the former Gladiators show himself.

Reflecting on his upcoming appearance in Gladiators, Olubi said: "This is a dream come true for me. I’m a 90’s kid so the Gladiators of past were my version of real-life superheroes. Now I’ve got the chance to don the big “G” and be an inspirational figure myself.

Comet

Ella-Mae Rayner is a gymnast and diver who trains at least six times a week.

Speaking about the show, Ella-Mae said: "If little old me knew at five years old when she started gymnastics that she would grow up to be a Gladiator, she wouldn’t have believed you. I cannot even begin to find the words to describe how I feel right now."

Viper

Quang Luong said he was born to be a Gladiator and has been training as a bodybuilder for 15 years. The athlete has starred in several films and is a fitness model when he’s not working out.

Assuming the role of Viper, it's believed that Luong will be the modern-day wolf and will be portrayed as the villain of the show.

Athena

Karenjeet Kaur Bains will assume the role of Athena, saying: "The Greek Goddess of War and Wisdom is ready to bring her POWER to the Sheffield Arena!!"

Bains is a powerlifting champion and a Guinness world record holder. The athlete said: "I represent all those from diverse and minority backgrounds, especially women, that have ever been denied the opportunity to pursue their dreams in sport."

Apollo

Alex Gray is a rugby and NFL sport star who is ready to make his mark in the Gladiator arena.

"After playing rugby and In the NFL, the opportunity to inspire as Apollo is a dream come true. I plan on leading from the front and never giving up," he said.

Sabre

Sheli McCoy, a British weightlifting champion, said: "It’s a dream come true I’ll be taking part in the old, iconic games my mum and I once watched and I can’t wait to attack the new ones with her watching."

Dynamite

Emily Steel is a CrossFit enthusiast and swimmer who earned her name for her explosive strength.

While she's too young to remember the original Gladiators, she said: "Dynamite really does represent who I am and I’m excited to showcase what I can do in the games”.

Nitro

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey is a Team GB sprinter who was previously named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. As a gold medallist, Harry is no stranger to putting in the hard work and getting the results.

"Becoming a Gladiator is another great achievement! A childhood dream come true!" he said.

Diamond

Diamond is a 6ft tall bodybuilder and fitness coach who has been training for this opportunity all her life.

She said: "If there was an opportunity I could wish for this would be it! This truly is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me and I can’t wait to get in the arena! I’ve been training for duel since I was 9 years old!"

Steel

Zack George earned himself the title of UK’s Fittest Man in 2020 and is a leading figure in the CrossFit world.

He's also been on quite a journey, explaining: "from being a very overweight and self-conscious kid to a @crossfitgames athlete/ men’s health cover model and now a GLADIATOR."

What can I expect from Gladiators?

Original Gladiators Kim Betts and Sharron Davies, who were known to fans as Lightning and Amazon, previously appeared on BBC Breakfast to talk about the revival.

Davies, 59, said: “The only thing I think is going to be really testing is health and safety. “I think that’s the thing which will be so very different from way back then.”

Betts, 50, shared Davies’ concerns, revealing that changes were being made because of health and safety rules even when the original show was running.

“Huge changes,” she said. “When we first started, things like the 6ft free-fall we used to do without a harness, just fall on to a crash mat.

“Brilliant if you’re not scared of heights and are aware of rotational falls but, as health and safety came on throughout the years, you’ve then got to be attached to a harness.

“It takes away that element of fear and excitement for the viewers back home.

“I know some people got seriously injured on that… so I completely understand it. But when you’re trying to invent an exciting, thrilling game and then health and safety step in, which they did on numerous events, it all has to be changed.”

Who will present Gladiators?

Bradley Walsh will present the reboot alongside his son, Barney, with the pair set to bring charm and wit as hosts.

The Gladiators brand runs in the family, as Barney’s mum, Donna Walsh (Bradley’s wife), was head choreographer for the Gladiator cheerleaders G-Force on the original series.

Bradley and his son used to visit the set, with Barney taking some of his initial steps on the arena floor.

Previously, Bradley said: “Wow! I can’t believe that I’ve been asked to be part of this iconic show. I used to sit backstage, or in the audience, every week watching my wife be part of this juggernaut and now I get to co-host a new version of Gladiators! Saturday night family entertainment at its best... Are you ready?”

While his son added: “Gladiators has been a massive part of our family and it’s an honour to be asked to co-host this iconic show.

When did Gladiators start and where are they now?

The show started in 1992 and included four contenders competing against the show’s Gladiators in several events, including Duel, Hang Tough and Pyramid, to reach the series final.

Most of them have gone on to appear in other TV shows such as Jet (Diane Youdale) who worked as a psychotherapist and appeared on Celebrity Big Brother.

Sharron Davies, who played Amazon, was forced to leave the show after an injury but went on to enjoy a successful presenting career. She also competed on Strictly Come Dancing.

Mark Smith, who played Rhino, stepped into acting and can be seen in films such as Pirates of the Caribbean.