Gladiators worst injuries as Jet reveals she almost broke her neck

The sports entertainment show is being rebooted

Diane Youdale was Jet on the show. (PA Images/Alamy)
Diane Youdale was Jet on the show. (PA Images/Alamy)

Gladiators star Jet has opened up about how she almost broke her neck when she starred in the 90s show.

The TV star – whose real name is Diane Youdale – was a huge favourite on the sports entertainment programme, which is now being rebooted. However, she left in 1996 after four years, after hurting herself when she fell from a giant pyramid.

Youdale has previously said she “compressed” her cervical vertebrae when she fell, telling the Mirror last year: “Had it been worse, it would have been a neck break.”

Talking to the BBC about her injury, she has now said: “I'll never forget the moment I heard a 'pop'." The star said the injury was "one step too close" to breaking her neck.

"They stretchered me out and, as I was lying in an ambulance in agony, I thought I'm going to roll away while my limbs still work,” she said. “I've done my four years, it's time to bow out."

(L-R) Lightning, Jet and Scorpio, of the ITV series Gladiators, in London. The super-fit gladiators will meet again in a series of spectacular games on ITV in the autumn as part of its new autumn schedule.
Diane Youdale, centre, hurt herself on the 1990s version of Gladiators. (PA Images/Alamy)

Youdale’s injury was not the first – or last – for one of the show’s stars, with many hurting themselves over the years. We have a look at some of the other mishaps on Gladiators.

Lightning and Hunter detailed show injuries

Last year Kim Betts – aka Lightning – said that there were more injuries than people realised on the series, which originally aired from 1992 to 2000.

“Quite a few people had operations or ended up in hospital,” she said during an appearance on ITV’s This Morning. “Backstage, there was so much going on backstage than what you would see in the arena. People were being pushed around in wheelchairs, people had their legs in casts, arms in casts.”

James Crossley, who was Hunter, said that a few people “popped” shoulders and knees. “It was mainly the falls, because you just never know how you were going to land,” he said.

Television - Gladiators. John Fashanu and Ulrika Jonsson, hosts of the new LWT show Gladiators
John Fashanu and Ulrika Jonsson hosted Gladiators. (PA Images/Alamy)

Panther fell headfirst during Tilt challenge

Helen O'Reilly, who was Panther, suffered a serious neck and back injury after falling during a challenge in 1994. The TV star was tackling the Tilt event, and as the table tilted she fell headfirst to the crash mats below, landing at an awkward angle.

Speaking on The GladPod podcast last year, she said she “almost snapped” her neck and that it was “pretty horrendous”. O’Reilly said she couldn't remember the actual incident, although she has since seen video clips of her tumble.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND:  Zodiac, (Kate Staples), Lightning (Kim Betts), Panther (Helen O'Reilly) and Paul Bradley during the filming of Gladiators for Comic Relief at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, which was shown during the Red Nose Day telethon on March 14, 1997. The event raised over £27m for charitable causes. (Photo by George Bodnar/Comic Relief via Getty Images)
Helen O'Reilly (third from left) had a nasty fall. (George Bodnar/Comic Relief via Getty Images)

“No memory at all,” she said. “But obviously the recovery afterwards took quite a long time.”

Amazon suffered leg injury

Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies was Amazon on Gladiators but left after a fall exacerbated a childhood leg injury.

She previously told the Mirror: “I was pulling down a contender during the Pyramid game and we came tumbling down. I got to the bottom and my leg was flat and bent at 90 degrees. She fell on it and that was the end of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in my right knee.

“As there wasn’t an awful lot left of the ligament, it wasn’t as painful as it should have been. But I couldn’t walk on it.

Former Olympic athlete Sharron Davies speaks about the importance of maintaining female sporting categories at both elite and grassroots levels and concerns about the potential impact of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform, at the Macdonald Hotel in Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2022.
Sharron Davies was Amazon in the early version of Gladiators. (PA Images/Alamy)

“I knew I’d done some serious damage to it but my doctor said the roots of the injury went back to my childhood injury. I needed an immediate ligament reconstruction, which was the first of nine operations.”

Gladiators is making a comeback

Gladiators originally ran from 1992 to 2000 and was hosted by Ulrika Jonsson and John Fashanu. It was resurrected in 2008 but it proved to be a brief comeback and the show ended again in 2009.

Then in 2022 it was confirmed that it was being brought back with a series that bosses say will welcome a brand new generation of "superhumans who will compete against contestants in the ultimate test of speed and strength". Gladiators’ new run will be presented by Bradley Walsh and his son Barney.

Gladiators,L-R: Viper. Giant, Legend, Phantom, Apollo,Nitro, Steel, Bionic,Coming soon... Gladiators head to BBC Headquarters to announce the shows return to screens. ,BBC ,Guy LEvy
Gladiators is back for a new series. (BBC)

Gladiators is on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from Saturday 13 January at 5.50pm.

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