Gladiators (1992 UK TV series)
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|Created by||Dan Carr
|Presented by||Ulrika Jonsson
John Fashanu (1992–96, 1999–2000)
Jeremy Guscott (1997–98)
|Starring||John Anderson (Referee)
John Sachs (Commentator)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||8 (Series)
2 (International Gladiators)
2 (The Ashes)
2 (The Springbok Challenge)
|No. of episodes||112 (Series)
14 (International Gladiators)
6 (The Ashes)
14 (The Springbok Challenge)
|Location(s)||National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, England|
|Running time||60mins (inc. adverts)|
|Production company(s)||London Weekend Television in association with The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
|Picture format||4:3 (1992–98)
|Original release||10 October 1992– 1 January 2000|
|Related shows||Gladiators: Train 2 Win (1995–98)
Gladiators is a British television entertainment series, produced by LWT for ITV, and broadcast between 10 October 1992 and 1 January 2000. It is an adaptation of the American format American Gladiators. The success of the British series spawned further adaptations in Australia and other countries.
The series was revived in 2008 on Sky 1, before again being cancelled in 2009. The series was originally presented by John Fashanu and Ulrika Jonsson; however, Fashanu was replaced by Jeremy Guscott from 1997 to 1998. The series was refereed by John Anderson. John Sachs was the show's commentator, and the series was accompanied by its own group of cheerleaders, known as G-Force.
- 1 Format
- 2 Events
- 3 Cast and crew
- 4 Spin-offs
- 5 Controversies
- 6 Format changes
- 7 Transmissions
- 8 Merchandise
- 9 VHS releases
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The format of the series involves contestants battling against a 'Gladiator' in a number of events in order to secure points for the final event, The Eliminator. Typically, four contenders would appear in each episode, two male (Red and Blue) and two female (Pink and Yellow), and each contender would compete in five or six events, depending on the series or time constraints.
In each event, the contenders will score a number of points, usually ten for a win. Typically, both male and female contenders would compete in the same events; however, during series six, this format was removed, and female contenders would play easier games, whilst the male contenders would play more difficult games. Once all five or six games are played, the number of points is totalled and the contestant with the highest number of points gets a start in The Eliminator assault course with every point ahead of their competitor worth half a second. The winner of The Eliminator then goes on to compete in the next round.
A typical series contains fifteen episodes - eight heats, four quarter finals, two semi-finals and the grand final. Occasionally, a celebrity or charity special will be broadcast after the grand final. Once a contender had won the eliminator, his or her score would go onto a leader board. The top 4 scoring males and females went on to the semis. With the final season (season 8), it consisted of just 3 episodes: 2 heats and a grand final.
Despite being made by London Weekend Television, all episodes of Gladiators, International Gladiators, the second series of The Ashes and the first series of The Springbok Challenge were recorded at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, whose ITV provider is Central. The first series of The Ashes and the second series of the The Springbok Challenge, however, were filmed on the sets of the Australian and South African versions of the shows respectively.
The event line-up changed from series to series, with new events being added every series, however over the years some events were dropped due to safety reasons (Joust, Pole-Axe, Pyramid and Tilt), some never made it onto screen (Breakthrough & Conquer and Cyclotron) and one just disappeared without any explanation despite being both very popular and not causing any injuries (Pursuit).
Cast and crew
Over the course of the 8 domestic Series, Gladiators had 3 main presenters. Former TVAM weather girl Ulrika Jonsson was with the show from the first episode and in many ways was the main anchor due to her TV background. Despite having no hosting experience, footballer John Fashanu was given the role of male host of the series. For Seasons 6 and 7 he was replaced by Rugby player Jeremy Guscott.
|Gladiator name||Portrayed by||Domestic series||International series||Live shows|
|Amazon||Sharron Davies||Series 4||N/A||Wembley 1996|
|Blaze||Eunice Huthart||N/A||N/A||Sheffield 1995|
|Falcon||Bernadette Hunt||Series 2–8||International Gladiators 1–2||Wembley 1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Flame||Kimbra Standish||Series 1||N/A||Wembley 1993|
|Fox||Tammy Baker||Series 6–8||The Springbok Challenge 2, MTN Gladiators 2001||The Royal Tournament 1998|
|Gold||Lize Van Der Walt||Series 6||The Springbok Challenge 2||N/A|
|Jet||Diane Youdale||Series 1–4||International Gladiators 1–2, The Ashes 1||Wembley 1993–1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Laser||Tina Andrew||Series 5||The Ashes 2, The Springbok Challenge 1||N/A|
|Lightning||Kim Betts||Series 1–8||International Gladiators 1–2, The Ashes 1–2, The Springbok Challenge 1||Wembley 1993–1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Nightshade||Judy Simpson||Series 2–5||International Gladiators 1–2, The Ashes 1||Wembley 1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Panther||Helen O'Reilly||Series 1–5||International Gladiators 1-2||Wembley 1993–1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Phoenix||Sandy Young||Series 1||N/A||Wembley 1993|
|Rebel||Jennifer Stoute||Series 5–8||The Springbok Challenge 1||Wembley 1996, The Royal Tournament 1997|
|Rio||Jane Omorogbe||Series 5–8||The Springbok Challenge 1–2||Wembley 1996|
|Rocket||Pauline Richards||Series 6||The Springbok Challenge 1||The Royal Tournament 1998|
|Scorpio||Nikki Diamond||Series 1–3||International Gladiators 1||Wembley 1993–1994|
|Siren||Alison Paton||Series 6–8||The Springbok Challenge 2||N/A|
|Vogue||Suzanne Cox||Series 4–8||International Gladiators 2; The Ashes 1–2, The Springbok Challenge 1–2||Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Zodiac||Kate Staples||Series 2–5||International Gladiators 1-2||Wembley 1993–1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Gladiator name||Portrayed by||Domestic series||International series||Live shows|
|Ace||Warren Furman||Series 5–8||The Ashes 2, The Springbok Challenge 1–2||Wembley 1996|
|Bullit||Mike Harvey||N/A||The Legends Series 2010||Wembley 1993|
|Cobra||Michael Willson||Series 1–8||International Gladiators 1–2, The Springbok Challenge 2||Wembley 1993–1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Diesel||Darren Crawford||Series 7||N/A||N/A|
|Hawk||Aleks Georgijev||Series 1||N/A||Wembley 1993|
|Hunter||James Crossley||Series 2–8||International Gladiators 1–2, The Ashes 1–2, The Springbok Challenge 1–2||Wembley 1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996; The Royal Tournament 1997-1998|
|Khan||Radosev Nekic||Series 6||N/A||The Royal Tournament 1998|
|Raider||Carlton Headley||Series 4||International Gladiators 2||Sheffield 1995|
|Rhino||Mark Smith||Series 4–8||International Gladiators 2, The Ashes 1–2, The Springbok Challenge 1–2||Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996, The Royal Tournament 1997|
|Saracen||Mike Lewis||Series 1–8||International Gladiators 1, The Ashes 2, The Springbok Challenge 1–2||Wembley 1993–1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Shadow||Jefferson King||Series 1–3||International Gladiators 1||Wembley 1993–1994|
|Trojan||Mark Griffin||Series 2–5||International Gladiators 1–2||Wembley 1993–1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996|
|Vulcan||John Seru||Series 7||International Gladiators 2, The Ashes 1–2, Australian Gladiators 1–3||N/A|
|Warrior||Michael Ahearne||Series 1–6||International Gladiators 1–2, The Ashes 1||Wembley 1993–1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996, The Royal Tournament 1997|
|Wolf||Michael Van Wijk||Series 1–8||International Gladiators 1–2, The Ashes 1–2, The Springbok Challenge 1||Wembley 1993–1994, Sheffield 1995, Wembley 1996, The Royal Tournament 1997|
Both Cobra and Lightning were never originally intended to be Gladiators. Instead, they trained and entered as contestants, and it wasn't until hours before the first recording that it was decided two more Gladiators would be required for the series. This is the reason neither appear on the cover of the music CD that was released to accompany the series. They were both upgraded to full-time participants in show three, and both remained until the very end of the programme.
Fox originally appeared as a contestant during the Wembley live shows of 1993. She was hand-picked to be a reserve Gladiator for the sixth series, however, she ended up becoming a full-time participant after Gold injured herself during training. When the British series ended, Fox became a member of the South African Gladiators team, appearing in their final domestic season.
Laser originally trained and entered as a contestant, but was later made into a reserve Gladiator. However, she ended up becoming a full-time participant after Nightshade injured herself during an event. When she appeared in the first Springbok Challenge, she appeared as a Gladiator for her native South Africa and her Gladiator name was changed to Sheena.
Vulcan joined the British Gladiators series after his native Australian edition of the series was cancelled. In international Gladiators 2 and both Ashes competitions, he competed for Australia.
Wolf later became the team coach for the new set of Gladiators, who appeared in the 2008 revival of the series.
Diesel and Vulcan only participated in the "Battle of the Giants" special in season 8.
Applicants who wanted to take part in the show had to go through vigorous fitness tests before they were selected to take part. Footage of several of the tests were broadcast during behind-the-scenes segments during both the first and second series. Notable competitors on the show include future British 400 metre hurdler Chris Rawlinson, and Wales International Rugby Union winger Glen Webbe. Cage fighter Alex Reid also appeared as a contestant during the seventh series. Most competitors achieved brief local fame, but series three women's champion Eunice Huthart earned great recognition, and briefly presented late night television before becoming a stunt double. Several competitors from the show's history later went on to appear on Total Wipeout, the most notable being series seven contestants Colm Curran and Margo Hudson. Series 5 winner Mark Mottram went on to become a professional stuntman and was Pierce Brosnan's stunt double in the James Bond films. He appeared in Batman (as Heath Ledger's double). He is married to Debbie Mottram, who was a cheerleader he met on Gladiators.
|1||Winner||Weininger Irwin||Vanda Fairchild|
|Runner-Up||Kym Dalton||Jane Morris|
|2||Winner||Phil Norman||Jean Klenk|
|Runner-Up||Brian Ward||Georgina Berger|
|3||Winner||Paul Field||Eunice Huthart|
|Runner-Up||Sam Codjoe||Kerryn Sampey|
|4||Winner||Mark Everitt||Janet Allen|
|Runner-Up||Regan Pilkington||Mandy Beacher|
|5||Winner||Mark Mottram||Andreya Wharry|
|Runner-Up||Buster Reeves||Sarah Damm|
|6||Winner||Piers Bryant||Audrey Garland|
|Runner-Up||Adam Stretton||Wendy Famiglietti|
|7||Winner||Dave Walter||Jane Smith|
|Runner-Up||Neil Parsley||Louise Raines|
|8||Winner||Dave Walter||Jane Smith|
|Runner-Up||Mark Everitt||Andreya Wharry|
John Anderson has been the head official. Before every event he called: "Contender ready! Gladiator ready!," similar to his American counterpart, Larry Thompson, but also he added a countdown, "Three! Two! One!" before starting the match. During celebrity specials Anderson took a more light-hearted attitude to the show such as adapting his call to "Little contender ready!" when Willie Carson took part. John had an assistant on the show, known as the "Official Timekeeper". The role was predominately filled by Andrew Norgate who was also a producer. Norgate was replaced by athlete Derek Redmond for series 3.
While the show itself was inspired by the USA's American Gladiators, the UK show inspired many other countries to start their own series. The first country to get in on the act after the United States and UK was Finland. All three appeared on the first International Gladiators series. They were joined by Russia who participated in several international shows but never had a domestic series. Shortly after this series other countries such as Australia and South Africa followed. They participated in IG2 along with Russia, UK and United States and Germany (Germany never had a domestic season and this was their only venture into Gladiators). Japan had a brief forray with a series entitled Bang,Bang,Bang,Bang. Some American Gladiators did appear. Other countries that launched their own version included Nigeria, Denmark and Sweden in the 21st century. Sweden started in 2001 and ran for 5 seasons making it one of the longest running versions. With Sweden gone in 2004, no other nations remained, and the Gladiators craze was over. Discussions spurted in the United States in 2007 about a revival.
Gladiators: Train 2 Win
In the late 1990s, when the popularity of the programme began to wane, a spin-off entitled Gladiators: Train 2 Win was produced and was broadcast on CITV in 1996, based on Gladiators 2000, the kids' version of American Gladiators. The show featured two teams of children, each captained by a gladiator (varying each week) which sought to gain the most points. Some of the games differed from those on the parent show; for example, the "Eliminator" round was more similar to the "Pursuit" round (though it still featured the famous "Travelator").
||This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (April 2014)|
- During the first series in 1992, on the very first game of The Wall, Contender Nicola Bawden slipped away from Scorpio (Nikki Diamond). Scorpio had managed to get hold of her, but she slipped off moments later and dropped to the floor. It turned out that Bawden had greased her legs. It also turned out that Bawden had undone her laces so that Scorpio could not hold onto her trainers. Although this wasn't explored on the actual programme, the incident was given mention on the show's first home video release, Into the Arena, as Scorpio made a complaint. John Anderson, after reviewing the footage, ruled that while Bawden did use excessive grease on her legs there was no actual rule prohibiting this therefore she was allowed to retain the points she had earned. However new rules were immediately put in place to prevent her or any other contestants from trying the same trick.
- After the Wembley live shows in 1993, Phoenix (Sandy Young), Flame (Kimbra LeAnne Standish) and Hawk (Aleks Georgijev) were sacked from the show, having received the lowest number of votes from fans in a magazine poll. Series show runner Nigel Lythgoe was heavily criticised for the decision, and was slammed by TV critics for such ruthlessness. For reasons unknown, Bullit (Mike Harvey), who also appeared at the shows, was never transferred to the television series. He was dropped for unknown reasons, and despite many press articles regarding the incident, no reason for his departure was given.
- During the third series in 1994, Panther (Helen O'Reilly) suffered one of the worst injuries on the show when she fell from her platform during Tilt and severely injured her back. She returned to the show later in the season and remained with the show for a further two years before retiring permanently.
- After the third series in 1994, a newspaper uncovered evidence that Shadow (Jefferson King) had taken steroids. King later confirmed the rumours were true and was dropped shortly after.
- Season five became known as the "season of injury". Before filming started Jet (Diane Youdale) retired after being injured during a live show in Sheffield, Amazon (Sharron Davies) was severely injured during training and had to pull out (although she was on all publicity for this season). Laser was brought in as a replacement. Zodiac's (Kate Staples) appearances were limited to only 2 due to an injury on Pole Axe during training, she retired the following year. Nightshade (Judy Simpson) made only sparse outings due to a virus picked up the previous year in Australia. She had to be helped off after a game by the training team. Her final curtain call came when beaten on her speciality event Duel, her only defeat during domestic competition. She would never appear again.
- Also during the fifth series in 1996, it was reported by the media that Hunter (James Crossley) and show presenter Ulrika Jonsson were in a relationship with each other. Although heavily denied at the time, Jonsson later admitted it in her 2003 biography.
- After the sixth series in 1997, Warrior (Michael Ahearne) was sacked from the show, after being arrested for a firearms offence. Despite many questions as to his departure, it was only revealed six months later in a newspaper article why he had departed.
Season seven (1998) saw the show have a major overhaul. 2 new male Gladiators joined the team. One of which was Vulcan, the "bad boy" of the Australian version of the show. He was brought in to be a rival of Wolf. Behind the scenes aspects were added including clips of the contenders selections and training. 3 new games were introduced, the most since 1994 although all 3 flopped with viewers. As well as the new games, 3 of the most established events (Powerball, Pendulum and Gauntlet ) had rule changes.
Another change was the Gladiators' costumes. The "logos" (Crossbow for Hunter, Cards for Ace etc.) were removed and a standardised outfit was brought in, albeit customised for each gladiator. The actual "cut" of the costume remained the same for all gladiators from the previous year and no two design were the same. The main design was part of the word "Gladiators" written in black on each outfit.
Despite the changes, Viewing figures continued to drop and the series was axed in early 1999. However ITV agreed to film another 4 episodes. These episodes were filmed in summer 1999 at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham. Consisting of a 3-part mini-series which saw previous winners compete to be crowned "Champion of Champions" and a one off special entitled "Battle of the Giants" where male gladiators competed against each other for the title of "Ultimate Gladiator". The honour went to Hunter (James Crossley). These 3 episodes attracted good ratings for the time slot with the series making it into a new millennium, finally bowing out on 1 January 2000.
During the show's first three seasons, popular model makers Hornby made a selection of action figures and playsets based on the show. In 1992 the first wave of figures was released consisting of Gladiators Jet, Shadow, Wolf, Saracen, Cobra and Warrior as well as generic action figures of a male contender and female contender. Six playsets were also released - Super Duel, Duel, Atlasphere Challenge, Atlasphere Attack, The Ultimate Challenge and Danger Zone. Danger Zone originally shipped with a Hawk figure, but when he was sacked from the show the figure was replaced by Warrior but a number of the packs with Hawk made it to stores. In 1993 a second series was released consisting of Gladiators Hunter, Trojan, Panther and Zodiac along with second versions of Jet and Wolf. A new play-set of The Wall was also released. A final wave of series branded 'International Gladiators' was then released featuring a second version of Hunter along with figures of American Gladiator Hawk, Russian Gladiator Dynamite and Finnish Gladiator Terminator. A Gauntlet playset and figure of UK female Gladiator Lightning were advertised but never released.
Along with these popular models and play sets everything from plates to clocks were released. Two CD and Audio Tape compilations were released during the early years of the show, containing tracks such as Holding Out For A Hero, We Are Family & The Boys Are Back In Town, as well as the instrumental music used during events.
During the show's first four series, a number of VHSes were released. These contained episodes, specials or other material exclusive for home release. Many quickly sold out and are rare. The following VHS releases are available:
- GL001 - Into the Arena - Contains Heats 1 and 2 from Series 1 (1992)
- GL002 - Powerplay - Contains Heats 3 and 4 from Series 1 (1992)
- GL003 - The Conflict - Contains Heats 5 and 6 from Series 1 (1992)
- GL004 - Countdown - Contains Semi Finals 1 and 2 from Series 1 (1992)
- GL005 - The Ultimate Challenge - Contains the Grand Final from Series 1 (1992)
- GL006 - The Very Best of Gladiators - Contains the special episode "The Challenge of the Gladiators" (1993)
- GL007 - Gladiators Return - Contains the special episode "Return of the Gladiators" (1993)
- GL008 - Contenders Ready, Gladiators Ready - Contains Heats 1 and 2 from Series 2 (1993)
- GL009 - Arena Attack - Contains Heats 3, 4 and 5 from Series 2 (1993)
- GL010 - Battleground - Contains Heats 6, 7 and 8 from Series 2 (1993)
- GL011 - Combat - Contains Quarter Finals 1-4 from Series 2 (1993)
- GL012 - The Ultimate Challenge '93 - Contains Semi Finals 1 and 2 and the Grand Final from Series 2, plus the special episode "The Battle of the Gladiators" (1993)
- GL013 - The Climax - Contains Semi Finals 1 and 2 plus the Grand Final from Series 3 (1994), plus footage from the "International Challenge of Champions I" (1993)
- GL014 - The Gladiators Challenge '94-'95 - Contains the special episodes "The Return", "The Celebrity Challenge" and "The Fighting Forces Challenge" (1994)
- GL015 - International Gladiators: The Showdown - Contains Semi Finals 1 and 2 plus the Grand Final from International Gladiators I (1994)
- GL016 - The Power To Win - Contains the special episode "The Power To Win" (1995)
- SV001 - Jet: A Video Profile - Contains the special episode "Jet: A Video Profile" (1995)
- "Hurt girls looking for a father figure". News.scotsman.com. 23 April 2002. Retrieved 30 June 2007.
- "Gladiators: Into the Arena [VHS]: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators - Powerplay : Ulrika Jonsson, John Fashanu, John Sachs: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators - The Conflict  [VHS]: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. 1992-11-30. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators - Countdown  [VHS]: John Sachs, Saracen, Scorpio, Warrior, Jet, Wolf, Panther, Nigel Lythgoe, Ulrika Jonsson, John Fashanu: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators - The Ultimate Challenge  [VHS]: Ulrika Jonsson, John Fashanu, John Sachs, Nigel Lythgoe: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators-Best of 1992 [VHS]: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators: Gladiators Return [VHS]: Saracen, Warrior, Wolf, Lightning, Scorpio, Jet, Cobra, Shadow, Panther, Hunter, Nigel Lythgoe: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. 1995-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators 1993- Contenders Ready, Gladiators Ready!: Ulrika Jonsson, John Fashanu, John Sachs, Nigel Lythgoe: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. 1995-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators 93-Arena Attack [VHS]: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators 1993 - The Battleground  [VHS]: Ulrika Jonsson, John Fashanu, John Sachs, Nigel Lythgoe: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. 1995-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators 1993 - Combat  [VHS]: Ulrika Jonsson, John Fashanu, John Sachs, Nigel Lythgoe: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. 1995-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators 93-Ultimate Challenge [VHS]: Gladiators: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. 1995-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- Ulrika Jonsson. "Gladiators 94 - The Climax  [VHS]: Ulrika Jonsson, John Fashanu, John Sachs, Nigel Lythgoe: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators 1994: Challenge 1994/95 [VHS]: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. 1995-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators 1995 - International Gladiators 1995 - The Showdown!  [VHS]: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. 1995-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators-The Power to Win [VHS]: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. 1995-12-04. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Gladiators - Jet - A Video Profile  [VHS]: Jet: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-21.