TV classic Gladiators has been revived by the BBC for a new generation of superhumans to battle it out in tests of strength and speed. This 90s show featured members of the public competing with elite athletes.
The BBC have confirmed that the Saturday night favourite will return in late 2023 on BBC One. Sheffield’s Utilita Arena will play host to these challenges pushing competitors to the limit of their abilities over an 11 episode run.
Since the original show ended in 2000, the Gladiators have gone on to lead sometimes surprising lives. Before the new batch of superhumans step into the area, we look at where the original Gladiators are now.
Gladiators ran for eight seasons in the late 90s, hosted by Ulrika Jonsson and John Fashanu. Fans would tune in weekly to see four competitors go up against a Gladiator of the same gender in a variety of challenges ending in the Eliminator.
Diane Youdale (Jet)
Diane Youdale rose to fame as Gladiator Jet at just 22 years old, appearing on the show between 1992 and 1996. She left after a 40ft fall from the Pole Axe challenge resulted in her breaking her nose and sustaining a neck injury.
Since the show Diane has trained as a psychotherapist and splits her time between North East England and Surrey. The former choreographer appears on TV shows occasionally but has left the limelight behind her.
Mike Van Wijk (Wolf)
Perhaps one of the most recognisable Gladiators is Wolf, also known as Mike Van Wijk, who was a bodybuilder before turning his hand to the arena. He has since gone on to start a chain of gyms in New Zealand, where he now lives.
Wolf now also appears occasionally as a cage fighter on the Kiwi scene, showing he’s still capable of being a Gladiator. He returned to the show in the 2008 reboot so he could be up for returning to the BBC reboot.
Jane Omorogbe (Rio)
Unsuspecting model and Miss United Kingdom contestant Jane Omorogbe became Rio after she was spotted by Gladiators referee John Anderson and asked to audition. She rigorously trained with a Taekwondo instructor and debuted in series five of the show.
This model turned Gladiator has now turned to journalism and is a motorcycle reporter as well as a TV presenter. Jane is the current pit side reporter for ITV’s British Touring Car Championship coverage.
Kim Betts (Lightning)
The only female Gladiator to stay the course for the whole show was Lightning, and was described as one of the most determined and toughest superhumans. Kim Betts was so determined she gave birth to her baby boy Lexus and three weeks later competed in the penultimate series.
Kim is now a bodybuilder with a massive Instagram following of 13.8k dedicated fans who she shows off her fit physique for. She now has 17 years worth of property developing experience and lives on a farm with her husband and children.
Jefferson King (Shadow)
Shadow was one of the Gladiators to appear on the first few seasons of the Saturday night show, leaving after series three in 1994. He was known to be one of the more intimidating Gladiators, having once damaged the pugil stick during a Joust event by hitting the competitor so hard.
Jefferson lost his job on the show in 1995 due to a steroid scandal but he turned to wrestling and even had a cameo in Spice World (1997). After this his life took a turn and he became involved in drugs and crime, spending time in and out of jail, including in 2021 when he was jailed for six years and three months on charges of blackmail to which he pleaded guilty.
Michael Wilson (Cobra)
Long running Gladiator Cobra was with the show from start to end and was known for high kicks and splits. His time on the show wasn’t easy though as he turned up drunk and almost got fired.
Since the show Michael has lived in the West Midlands and avoided the spotlight but has had a series of health issues. In 2019, he went to the hospital for pneumonia, pleurisy and a ruptured bicep and then later that year suffered from pancreatitis.
Judy Simpson (Nightshade)
Famous before her Gladiator days, Judy Simpson was an Olympic athlete in the 80s winning gold for the heptathlon. She remains in the sports industry today, as an ambassador.
Her time on Gladiators lasted from 1993 to 1996 but was forced to pull out due to illness. Judy is now an honorary president of the Women’s Sports Federation.
Mike Lewis (Saracen)
Mike Lewis auditioned for the show with his girlfriend at the time and while she became a competitor, Mike became Saracen. His success didn't stop there as he later married his girlfriend Chrissie.
Since the show ended he competed in 2015’s Ninja Warrior series at the age of 52 but mainly stays away from the spotlight. Saracen is now a firefighter, keeping up his fitness but saving lives instead of competing as a Gladiator.
James Crossley (Hunter)
Friend to Warren and youngest ever Gladiator was Hunter, who rose to fame on the show at 19 years old for season two. During the show, rumours that James was dating Gladiators host Ulrika, who was 25 at the time, surfaced and were later confirmed by her.
James took on the acting world after the show ended, starring on stage and more recently in Netflix’s The Circle. In 2018, James broke the world record for lifting the Dinnie Stones in Aberdeenshire.
Mark Smith (Rhino)
London born Mark Smith is one of the few Gladiators not to move away from the spotlight, instead he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. He has starred in a number of films such as Batman Begins and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and is often credited as Rhino.
He lent his voice to Disney for their animated epic Zootopia as Office McHorn in 2016 and has appeared in multiple tv shows. Rhino is now also a father to three children and is settled in the United States.
Warren Furman (Ace)
Joining for the 1996 series, Doncaster born Warren Furman became one of the most well known Gladiators for his exploits outside of the show. He dated and got engaged to Katie Price, known as Jordan at the time.
Ace has since opened up about his steroid usage and become reborn as a devout Christian. He now visits schools to speak about his journey according to co-star James Crossley.
Sharron Davies (Amazon)
The second Olympian to grace the Gladiator arena is Sharron Davies, better known as Amazon. She only appeared in one season and has since gone on to become a sports reporter providing coverage for the Olympics.
Sharron has appeared on a multitude of shows from Dancing with the Stars to This Morning. The former swimmer and Gladiator has campaigned to ban trans women from competing in sports, arguing that they have an unfair advantage.
Helen O’ Reilly (Panther)
Helen O’Reilly has many titles - Miss Central Britain, Miss Europe, Miss North Britain, Miss England, Miss World, Miss Great Britain, Miss Russia and Miss Universe, and Panther on Gladiators. She sustained neck injuries after falling head first on the show but returned for the 1996 series fully healed.
She now lives in Uxbridge and runs Panther’s Gym with her husband but stays clear of the spotlight. Fans can be put through their paces at her gym though if they want to be pushed to their limit.
Du’aine Ladejo (Predator)
Olympic silver medalist sprinter Du’aine Ladejo was also known as Predator during his time as a Gladiator. He has since gone on to become a successful businessman creating the show Australia’s Greatest Athlete and the brand Trademark Greatest Athlete.
Du’aine also briefly appeared on 2005’s Celebrity Love Island as well as BBC sports show Superstars in both 2004 and 2005. He won the show in 2004 and came runner up the following year.
Kate Staples (Zodiac)
Pole vaulter Kate Staples was a Gladiator from 1993 to 1996 and known for breaking the British vaulting record 25 times. She was forced to step away from the show after sustaining an injury in 1996.
Kate found romance on the set of Gladiators and had a child with fellow superhuman Mark Griffin. This didn’t last however and she married rugby player Chris Sheasby, who she had two more children with but the pair split in 2011.
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