Gladiators reboot: Everything we know as BBC reveals final Gladiators
The gladiators are ready -- are you?
Hit 90s sports show Gladiators is returning to TV, with a brand new reboot due to launch on BBC One and iPlayer in the near future, and the hosts and first Gladiators have been revealed.
Originally debuting in 1992 and running right up until 2000, Gladiators made overnight stars of its champion contenders each of whom was put to the test by a range of high-spirited contestants from the general public.
Read more: Gladiators star Wolf wants to hand legacy on to his son
Through a series of challenges that put their strength, speed and stamina on the line, the popular game show culminated in both parties taking on the dreaded 'Eliminator', a multi-discipline obstacle course that separated the amateurs from the professionals.
More than 30 years later and the show that made stars of players like Wolf (Michael Van Wijk), Jet (Diane Youdale) and Cobra (Michael Willson) will now welcome a new roster of super-charged gladiators for a whole new generation, and there will also be a new set of hosts to boot.
Who are the new Gladiators?
The first two Gladiators were revealed during The One Show on Wednesday, 3 May and since then, details of additional warriors have been arriving thick and fast. In order of unveiling, here's a list of the new Gladiators that'll help bring 2023's series to life.
Bionic | Matty Campbell
Bionic has been given his moniker because he is so big and strong that he's like a machine.
Matty Campbell was an avid football player until a car crash scuppered these plans and led him to instead find solace in the gym, where he found his new calling: bodybuilding.
Ahead of the reboot's release, Bionic 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!"
Electro | Jade Packer
Jade Packer has been dubbed Electro on Gladiators for her strength, speed and agility that is said to be "electrifying", hence the nickname.
Electro, like Bionic, has a background in bodybuilding but she is also a sports model, fitness coach and hybrid athlete with experience in Crossfit.
Her speed has seen her be named one of the Top 10 Fastest Runners in the UK at the age of 12, while as a bodybuilder she earned four Top 3 UKBFF and she's earned a Gold at the English Grand Prix.
Packer said, "I hope Electro can spark an unstoppable pursuit for a new generation of athletes. I’m ready to light up the arena with a different kind of energy."
Phamtom | Toby Olubi
Athlete Toby Olubi has been named Phantom for his strength and speed, he was previously a membre of the Team GB Bobsleigh team and he competed in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Phantom has previously earned the title of fastest Bobsledder in the UK push championships for four consecutive years, and he is also a skilled sprinter.
In a statement, he 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.
"Gladiators is all about stepping up against the odds and bringing the best version of yourself. We will be given the biggest entertainment platform to represent that ethos and I couldn’t be more proud and grateful to be a Gladiator…. Let the show begin!!"
Viper | Quang Luong
Quang Long has also been confirmed to be joining the Gladiators as Viper, and he has been named as such for his precision and fast reactions.
The athlete has been training as a bodybuilder for 15 years, and he also boxes daily and is also a fitness model. His athleticism has even got the attention of Hollywood, and he has appeared in multiple films.
Long said of joining the show: “I was born to be a Gladiator. I am strong, powerful and just like a Viper I can attack with speed.”
Comet | Ella-Mae Rayner
A sight you won't forget in a hurry, Comet is named due to her ability to delight and dazzle with her feats of strength and speed.
Ella-Mae Rayner is a former elite-gymnast and semi-professional diver. She holds a sports science degree and never misses a chance to level up, training six times each week.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be Comet. I loved watching Gladiators growing up. I specifically remember Jet, she was an icon for me as a child and one of the reasons I become a gymnast. I can’t believe I will be following in her footsteps. It really is a dream come true”.
Athena | Karenjeet Kaur Bains
This gladiator takes her cues from the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece - and Athena has the brain, brawn and beauty to back it up, too.
A multi-award-winning powerlifting champion, Karenjeet Kaur Bains not only has a stacked awards shelf but she's also the proud owner of a Guinness World Record for “Most Bodyweight Squats in a minute."
As if that wasn't impressive enough, Bains' is a chartered accountant as well. "I represent all those from diverse and minority backgrounds, especially women, that have ever been denied the opportunity to pursue their dreams in sport," she says. "I hope I can be a role model and show the levels a female can achieve, if she is given the opportunity to follow her passion and given the wings to fly!”
Sabre | Sheli McCoy
Sheli McCoy joins the Gladiators roster as Sabre, a warrior famous for her power and agility.
McCoy has competed in numerous British Weightlifting Championships and isn't afraid of a challenge, training for 16 - 19 hours each week.
"I truly hope Sabre will inspire and empower the younger generation of strong capable females just as the gladiators I once watched inspired me to be a confident athletic women," said McCoy. "It is Sabre’s time to shine - here come the powerful girls!”
Apollo | Alex Gray
Boasting the speed of a rocket, Apollo brings his strength and cunning to Gladiator's new series.
Real name Alex Gray, Apollo has a background in both rugby and the NHL and is famous for his competitive nature, something that'll no doubt come in handy during his time on the show.
"Gladiator ready?? You better believe I am!!" smiled Gray. "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."
Dynamite | Emily Steel
Swimmer and CrossFit athlete Emily Steel earned her Gladiators moniker Dynamite thanks to her small, explosive and dangerous nature.
At just 20 years old, she'll stand out as the series' youngest Gladiator but don't let her youth fool you, she's bound to cause chaos when she lands in the show.
"I’m too young to remember the original Gladiators, but my parents loved it and suggested I try out," said Steel. "Dynamite really does represent who I am and I’m excited to showcase what I can do in the games”.
Nitro | Harry Aikines-Aryeetey
Team GB sprinter and world gold medallist, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, will be appearing as Nitro, a new Gladiator that boasts incredible speed and agility.
"Becoming a Gladiator is another great achievement! A childhood dream come true!” said Aryeetey upon joining he series. “I can’t wait to be in the arena and bring Nitro to Gladiators!"
Diamond - Livi Sheldon
Champion bodybuilder Livi Sheldon will also be giving amateur Gladiators a run for their money as Diamond. Standing 6ft tall, Diamond promises to live up to her name with skills that are unbreakable and super strong.
“When I was growing up I used to get picked on for being taller than everyone else. Now I get to show everyone that being unique is your superpower,” she revealed. “I can’t wait to get into the arena and take on the contenders as Diamond”
Fury - Jodie Ounsley
Fury, whose real name is Jodie Ounsley, is a professional Exeter Chiefs rugby player, and she is said to have a passion for competition as is shown by her titles as a former England Women’s Rugby Seven’s player, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu British Champion and five times World Coal Carrying champion, and she also won the title of Deaf Sports Personality of The Year in 2020.
Ounsley has also got a history with the original series as her father appeared on the programme in 2008, and in a statement Fury said: "Watching Gladiators growing up I was always in awe of their strength and power and now I am one! I hope contenders are ready to feel the Fury."
Steel - Zack George
Steel is a UK CrossFit star named Zack George who has previously won the title of the UK’s Fittest Man in 2020, and also ranked 26 out of 126,461 on the global CrossFit leader board.
In a statement, George said of joining the show: "I was inspired by the Gladiators as a child, but never imagined I’d be physically fit enough to be considered a 'superhuman'! I hope a new generation of fans will look up to me as their new strong, unbreakable hero, Steel."
Read more: Original Gladiators stars predict possible health and safety changes for reboot
Giant - Jamie Christian Johal
The new series will welcome Giant, a former firefighter and a competitor who is also one of the world’s tallest bodybuilders, standing 6ft 5 inches tall. His real name is Jamie Christian Johal and he certainly won’t be holding back when he enters the arena.
"I feel like everything in life has lead 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 - Montell Douglas
The fierce Fire, AKA Montell Douglas, will also appear. Her battling background lies in the worlds of sprinting and Olympic bobsledding and she was the first female athlete to compete in both the summer and winter Olympics back in 2022. Other Gladiators should be wary of her speed and ferocity.
"As a strong and powerful woman, I’m living proof that you can achieve your dreams, no matter what age or background, if you believe and keep pushing," said Douglas. "I’m ready to light up the competition!”
Legend - Matt Morsia
Also joining the show is former international athlete and bodybuilder Matt Morsia, better known here as Legend. In addition to being an award-winning triple jumper and powerlifter, Morsia is also a social media influencer and the author of a Sunday Times bestselling book all about training.
From the sounds of it, he already feels like he’s the reigning champion: “I could’ve spent the last two months eating doughnuts and playing Dungeons & Dragons and I’d still be better than everyone else.
"I’m called Legend for a reason!”
Who will host the Gladiators reboot?
The BBC announced on Wednesday, 3 May that Bradley Walsh and his son Barney will be the new hosts of Gladiators when it returns. The show was very much part of the family during its first run because Donna Walsh — Barney’s mum and Bradley’s wife — worked as the head choreographer for the original.
Given her role on the reality show, both Bradley and Barney would visit the set on a regular basis and The Chase host even appeared in a celebrities vs jockeys special in 1997.
Sharing their delight at becoming hosts, Bradley said in a statement: "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 ?!"
And Barney added: "Gladiators has been a massive part of our family and it’s an honour to be asked to co-host this iconic show. I’m so excited for everyone to see the spectacle, elite athletes and fantastic family entertainment that is GLADIATORS."
Back when the show first debuted, it was hosted by Ulrika Jonsson, with fellow hosts John Fashanu and Jeremy Guscott joining in subsequent series, John Sachs commenting on the action and John Anderson refereeing events.
The referees for the show have also been confirmed as Premier League Football referee, Mark Clattenburg, Sonia Mkoloma and Lee Phillips.
Who else will star in the Gladiators reboot?
Past Gladiators have previously expressed their interest in returning to the show, including Wolf, 70, who said after the reboot was announced that he was still "fit enough" to appear on the programme but he believed that he'd be seen as too old to do so.
Instead, Wolf said that his son Dean has applied for a position on the show instead. In November 2022, he told the Daily Star: "I can't imagine anyone being the new Wolf expect my son Dean.
"He has the same sense of humour and sharp wit that will tear the contenders to pieces. He not only looks like me but is a super athletic as well."
Wolf and Dean made an appearance on Good Morning Britain in December 2022 to discuss the possibility of Dean being on the show, with Wolf adding: “To be honest with you and I’m being perfectly honest with you, I could do all of the games comfortably.
“And any new ones they had. It’s just your commitment to a level of fitness and you know you can do it.”
When will the Gladiators reboot be released?
With this 11-part series yet to go into production, it’s currently unclear when we can expect to watch the BBC’s Gladiators reboot on TV.
What we do know is that filming for the series will take place throughout 2023 at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena so it’s a safe bet that this new series will debut sometime in late 2023 or early 2024.
Each episode will last 60 minutes and feature a host of new and challenging events, alongside a handful of classic obstacles. Each episode will once again finish with both professional and amateur gladiators taking on the fearsome Eliminator.
How can I take part in the BBC’s Gladiators reboot?
Reckon you’ve got what it takes to give the Gladiators a run for their money? If so, you can apply to take part in the BBC’s new series. Meanwhile, fans can also secure free tickets to the show’s live filming dates at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena.
Gladiators will return to BBC in late 2023 or early 2024.