Gladiators is a British sports entertainment game show, an adaptation of the American programme and its format, American Gladiators, and was produced by LWT for ITV from 10 October 1992 to 1 January 2000.
The show was presented by Ulrika Jonsson throughout its original run, alongside John Fashanu (1992-1996 & 1999) and Jeremy Guscott (1997-1998), with John Sachs providing commentary on each event, and John Anderson refereeing the contests. A group of cheerleaders also accompanied the show, known as the "G-Force". The success of the British series spawned further adaptations in Australia and other countries, while a children's version for the UK, entitled Gladiators: Train 2 Win, was also created and broadcast on CITV between 2 September 1995 and 13 March 1998.
The show involved contestants battling against the show's combatants known as the Gladiators in a number of events in order to secure points for the final event, an assault course called "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 would score a number of points, usually ten for a win. Typically, both male and female contenders would compete in the same events. Once all five or six games are played, the number of points is totalled, and the contender with the highest number of points gets a headstart in The Eliminator with every point ahead of their opponent worth half a second. The winner of The Eliminator then went on to compete in the next round.
Why It Rocks
- The Gladiators themselves, such as Wolf (the pantomime villain and most well-known Gladiator who would always butt heads with Referee John Anderson), Jet (the leggy brunette and #1 female Gladiator), Shadow (the very scary Black-British man who always steam-rolled any contender who ever came across him), Lightning (the babyfaced blonde beauty and #2 female Gladiator), Saracen (the mighty Jamacian-British fireman whose image song was "The One and Only" by Chesney Hawkes), Cobra (the practical joker with great martial arts skills), Hunter (the arrogant Welsh pretty boy who was Ulrika Jonsson's secret boyfriend), Nightshade (the near-invincible Jamacian-British woman who was dangerous at Duel and Powerball), Falcon (the raven-haired high-flyer), Trojan (the poster boy for the Action Man dolls and later portrayed the character in the DIC Entertainment animated series), Zodiac (the all-around blonde titan), Rhino (the stocky powerhouse), Vogue (the upper-class ex-supermodel), amongst many others.
- Ulrika Jonsson and John Fashanu both being excellent hosts.
- The events themselves, such as Atlaspheres (both contenders and Gladiators ride around in giant steel hamster balls, as the contenders try to score points), The Wall (the contenders have to climb to the top of a very tall wall before two Gladiators catch them), Danger Zone (each contender tries to avoid being shot by a Gladiator while taking cover to shoot back), Swingshot (the contenders use bungee cords to swing over to a column and grab coloured balls to score points while avoiding two Gladiators), Hang Tough (each contender has swing from one platform to another on chains with rings while avoiding a Gladiator), Duel (each contender fights a Gladiator one-on-one on elevated platforms with pugil sticks), Powerball (the contenders try to score points by dunking foam balls in baskets while ducking and dodging three Gladiators), Gauntlet (each contender tries to run down a narrow strip past five Gladiators), Skytrax (the contenders race each other on an upside-down Scalextric track while being chased by two Gladiators), and The Eliminator (the contenders race each other on an assault course) were astonishing to watch.
- Referee John Anderson was a pretty large ham, with lines such as "Contenders, READY! Gladiators, READY!" and "Contenders, you will go on my first whistle. Gladiators, you will go on my second whistle."
- The theme song was awesome.
- As the years went by, several Gladiators would leave the show due to either injuries or scandals.
- Jeremy Guscott was a very poor replacement for John Fashanu during Series 6 and 7. Luckily, Fashanu would return for Series 8.
- Saracen, Lightning, Cobra, and Wolf were the only Gladiators to appear in all eight series of the show's run.
- When John Fashanu temporarily left the show, Jeremy Clarkson was considered to replace him.