In a much-anticipated revival, Gladiators, one of the most exhilarating sports entertainment gameshows of all time, is making its triumphant return to BBC screens. The iconic show will now call BBC home and will be hosted by the dynamic father and son duo, Bradley and Barney Walsh. This latest iteration promises a clash between a new generation of superhuman Gladiators and a courageous lineup of contenders, all facing the ultimate test of speed and strength. The participants will engage in a series of fresh challenges, alongside beloved classics such as the fan-favourite, The Eliminator.
Produced by Hungry Bear and MGM Alternative UK, Gladiators (11 x 60′) is set to air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, having received the green light from Kate Phillips, Director of Unscripted. Executive Producers Dan Baldwin and Lou Brown (Hungry Bear) and Dom Bird (MGM Alternative UK) spearhead the production. Overseeing the entertainment commissioning for the BBC is Kalpna Patel-Knight, with Clodagh O’Donoghue acting as the Commissioning Editor.
Hungry Bear Media, the UK developer of the series, pays homage to the original American Gladiators series created by Johnny C. Ferraro and Dan Carr.
The adrenaline-pumping action of Gladiators is scheduled to commence on Saturday, 13th January 2024, broadcasting on both BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
We sat down with Bradley Walsh to get an inside scoop on the upcoming series of Gladiators.
Bradley, what can you tell us about the new series of Gladiators?
It’s pretty much true to the original with some changes and brought into the modern era. It’s a fantastic spectacle, I was so excited to work on the show. It’s very easy to say, “it’s fantastic”, but it really is. Production have done their best to stick to the original and have run with the ball as hard and as fast as they can, and they’ve done a fantastic job.
Why did you want to be involved with the show?
My wife, Donna, was involved in the original series running the cheerleading G Force and was an associate producer on the show so I used to visit her and watch the show being made and when my son, Barney was born it was still on air, so we used to take him to watch the show. I took part in Gladiators as a celebrity years ago in 1997, I wasn’t really a celebrity back then as I only had a few jobs under my belt and think I had to fill in for someone. It was a family affair for us and so when the team at Hungry Bear spoke to us and said they were looking for a family appeal to the show and asked if we would we like to host it, and we jumped at the chance.
You mentioned you took part in a celebrity version of Gladiators back in 1997, have you been giving the contenders any advice?
Absolutely not, no! I was terrible, there is no advice I could give, none whatsoever. They were a lot fitter, faster, higher, stronger than I could ever be and consequently I was useless. As I said I think I filled in for someone, so no advice whatsoever, none.
Do you still have the costume?
Oh, crikey I wish but no absolutely not. No way would it fit me now!
What was it like presenting with your son Barney?
It was really good and great fun for us to be part of the show. We’d done five series of ‘Breaking Dad’, so it was good fun to be able to stand together on camera and present together as we know how each other works.
What did you think of the set when you saw it for the first time in the arena?
It was mesmerising. The production team kept the set from us for quite some time and the day before we were going to rehearse Barney and I walked into the training session and watched people on the equipment and we thought this is this is absolutely amazing!
What was it like filming in Sheffield. Can you describe sort of that atmosphere in the arena?
Oh it was great! The audiences were amazing – just brilliant, lovely people, and I mean the atmosphere was smashing. We had a warm-up guy (Stuart Holdham) and two DJs (Danny Mylo and Rosie Madison) from a local radio station working together keeping the audience entertained, they worked brilliantly together. It was like being at a concert rather than a TV show!
Did you have to put any of the Gladiators in their place?
No, they were so respectful, apart from Viper and Legend, Viper hardly spoke, and Legend spoke too much! Legend at one point picked Barney up and threw him onto the mat and he took my microphone and then threw it. It was hard work dealing with them it really was, but it was all in good fun and they were wonderful to work with.
If there was to be a celebrity version of Gladiators, who would you like to see take part?
You want someone sporty, you’d want someone with a sense of humour and they’ve got to be so fit because they’ll be getting bashed around. You’d probably need a rugby player or boxer, maybe Anthony Joshua or Nicola Adams?
What would your Gladiator name be and why.
I don’t know, my celebrity Gladiator name back in the day was ‘Crumpet’ for some peculiar reason! Someone gave me the name as I was walking out, and it stuck. Funnily enough when filming this series, someone had a sign that read Brad do you remember being Crumpet? And of course, I didn’t remember it was Crumpet until that point. What would my new Gladiator name be? Either Hamster or Gerbil? Something along those lines because you can’t compete with the others.
Who would win out of Bradley vs Barney?
It’s no competition. Barney! He’s quicker and stronger than me, I wouldn’t have a chance I’d have to cheat. The great thing about Barnes is he’d let me win though, to help me build up my confidences, he’s that sort of bloke.
And finally, what can viewers expect from the new series?
Everything: drama, laughter, excitement, spectacle, all of the above, it’s a proper event. They’ve done a great job of paying homage to the original but updating it for the modern generation. It’s really brilliant.