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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Kerri-Ann Roper, PA Entertainment Editor

Contenders, ready? Hit ‘90s TV show Gladiators set to return to BBC

TV show Gladiators in 1996

Popular TV show Gladiators is returning to the BBC next year, it has been announced.

The programme will return with an 11-episode series and will be welcoming a new generation of "superhumans" who will compete against contestants in the "ultimate test of speed and strength", the BBC said.

The series, which will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, will include new games alongside classic challenges - with each episode ending with fan favourite, gruelling obstacle course The Eliminator.

At its peak, Gladiators - broadcast from 1992 to 2000 - drew huge audiences to its Saturday evening ITV slot as the famous call of "Contenders Ready? Gladiators Ready?" echoed across TV screens.

The likes of Trojan, Jet, Nightshade and Hunter became household names and the format - which originated in the US - travelled to Australia, South Africa, Russia, Finland, Germany, Nigeria, Denmark and Sweden.

When it returned to Sky, airing between 2008-2009, Kirsty Gallacher and Ian Wright took up the baton of hosting duties from original hosts John Fashanu and Ulrika Jonsson - with original referee John Anderson also returning for the Sky revival.

TV presenter Jonsson, 55, shot to fame as a TV weathergirl in the late 80s, with Gladiators catapulting her to further stardom.

The BBC has not yet announced who will host the returning show, but filming will take place at the Utilita Arena Sheffield next year.

Kate Phillips, the BBC's director of unscripted, said: "Gladiators is back and a whole new generation of viewers can now look forward to watching a Saturday night spectacle like no other.

"Will the contenders have the will and the skill to succeed against our mighty new Gladiators? You'll have to tune in to find out."

The series is to be made by Hungry Bear Media and MGM Television UK, with Scot Cru, executive vice president of global formats and Unscripted Content for MGM Television, saying: "Gladiators is a format that resonates with viewers worldwide.

"We are thrilled to bring this revered series to the BBC and can't wait to introduce our UK Gladiators."

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Dan Baldwin, managing director of Hungry Bear, said: "It's the perfect time for Gladiators to return.

"What other show combines electric excitement, superheroes, giant sponge fingers, elite athletes, and a pinch of pantomime? Watch out for the new breed of superhuman, supersized, superstars bursting on to your screens on BBC One and iPlayer."

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