Ninja Warrior UK is looking to shake things up as it returns for its highly anticipated sixth series this autumn.
The assault course game show is back following a three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and while the presenting line-up of Ben Shephard, Chris Kamara and Rochelle Humes remains the same, the show has undergone a format change.
Speaking to the Standard and other press at ITV’s Entertainment Autumn Showcase ahead of the start of the new series on September 10, Humes, explained: “Ninja Warrior as you know it is pretty much no more.
“We start off every episode with a race, which we’ve never done before. If you make it through or you make it up the Warped Wall, you get to the second round, which is racing against one of our elite ninjas.”
Series six marks the first year that a separate race for men and women has been introduced.
It also sees the show’s first amputee compete.
And while show bosses wouldn’t discount transgender contestants taking part, they say that despite attracting around 12,000 applicants, “none have yet to apply”.
“This is the first year that we’ve had a competition for men and a competition for women and we’ll see how this goes and see what we can do in future,” said executive producer Michael Kelpie.
“We have a rule that we’ve always had which is if you want to come and take part, you apply like everyone else,” added Humes.
“We want it to be as diverse as possible, so whoever applies is always welcome. The course is waiting!”
One exception to that rule however is the presenters who are strictly prohibited from attempting the course.
That was decided when questions around insurance arose during the very first series after Ben Shephard successfully completed it and would have qualified for a place in the semi-finals.
Kamara explained: “Ben Shephard had the privilege in the first ever series of doing the course and he would have been in the semi-finals as he scaled over the Warped Wall, but what happened is, ITV said if he gets injured, whose going to pay the insurance?
“That was the first question, then the second question was, if he gets injured would Kammy have to present the show?”
“[After that], they decided that none of us were allowed to do it,” lamented Humes.
Ninja Warrior UK: Race For Glory begins on ITV on September 10.