Gladiators has made a successful return to TV, with the rebooted series pulling in millions of viewers on BBC One.

Some viewers have compared it positively with the original series that aired on ITV between 1992 and 2000.

However, it remains to be seen if the new crop of Gladiators manages to attain the same sort of status that the most well-known of the original cast achieved decades prior.

From Wolf to Jet to Lightning and many more, here are some of the original cast of Gladiators from back on its heyday.

Who are the original Gladiators?


Wolf (real name Michael Van Wijk) was arguably the most well-known of the original Gladiators from the 1990s show, acting as the resident villain.

He certainly didn't like losing against the contenders and was certainly the meanest Gladiator on the roster.

Wolf appeared in all eight series of the show and afterwards went to live in New Zealand where he opened up a chain of gyms.

Van Wijk was a bit of a celebrity outside of the show, having a part in the 1996 film The Bruce and appearing in Sky's Toughman series.


Jet (real name Diane Youdale) appeared in just the first four series of Gladiators but proved to be one of the most popular ones to be on the show.

On the Gladiators website, it says: "Jet's skill in the Gladiators events, good looks and fantastic personality made her one of the most popular Gladiators of all time."

However, her time being a Gladiator came to an abrupt end in 1996 during a live show in Sheffield.

After tackling a contender on the Pyramid she fell awkwardly, trapping nerves in her neck which caused her to retire.


Lightning (real name Kim Betts) appeared in all eight series of the show and was described as one of the "most toughest and determined" Gladiators.

The Gladiators website adds: "She is known as the 'Queen of Hang Tough' remaining undefeated in the UK Arena. She has only ever been beaten once during filming of the first Ashes series in Australia."

Before appearing on the programme Betts had engaged in gymnastics and weight training winning competitions such as the Willenhall BB Show, Muscle Beach Open and the EFBB British Qualifier.


Rhino (real name Mark Smith) appeared on Gladiators between series 4-8 and was well-known for his "fantastic personality".

The Gladiators website adds: "Rhino stunned the Gladiators audiences with his display of robotic dancing and body popping moves.

"He especially excels in the power events such as Gauntlet, Whiplash and Suspension Bridge which he is undefeated in."

Smith took up bodybuilding before Gladiators at the age of 17 after being inspired by his champion bodybuilding cousin.


Appearing on all but the first series of the show, Falcon (real name Bernadette Hunt) is regarded by fans as one of the nicest Gladiators.

The show's website says: "Falcon was a truly all-round Gladiator, turning her hand to any events in the Gladiators show.

"Her mixture of power and skill meant it took one formidable contender to ruffle her feathers. Win or lose Falcon was always there to congratulate them."

Hunt passed away in March 2023 following a battle with cancer.


Saracen (real name Mike Lewis) featured in every series of the 1990s show and became a fan-favourite after getting involved in Gladiators in unusual circumstances.

Both Lewis and his girlfriend Chrissie auditioned for the show as contestants, but he impressed producers so much in training that he was offered a role on the main team.

The Gladiators website adds: "Saracen is one tough Gladiator, not only is he the King of Hang Tough, with only one Contender ever reaching his platform, but he has also proved himself to be a force to be reckoned with on Duel and Powerball to name just a few."


Cobra (real name Michael Willson) is another Gladiator who featured in every series of the show and was the joker of the team.

The Gladiators website adds: "Although he is the joker in the pack he is deadly serious when it comes to the events, as soon as he hears the call of 'Gladiators Ready' he is ready for action."

He was one the smallest male Gladiators but his speed and agility lent himself well to the Duel podium and the Hang Tough rings.


Shadow (real name Jefferson King) appeared in the first three series of Gladiators after he had pursued a career in bodybuilding.

The show's website adds: "Shadow was the initial Gladiators team captain and was one of the most physically intimidating of the Gladiators. He was feared by many a contender and regarded by many to be the toughest Gladiator."


Ace (real name Warren Furman) appeared on Gladiators between series 5 and 8, having beat out 60 other people for a role on the team in 1996.

The Gladiators website adds: "Ace is a true asset to the Gladiators team. He is strong but agile, fit, focused and determined. He excels at a variety of events including Hang Tough which is his favourite."


Nightshade (real name Judy Simpson) appeared between series 2 and 5 and was described as "one of the toughest female Gladiators ever" according to the show's website.

Her particular strengths were on show in Duel, Pole-Axe and Suspension Bridge events.

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The website adds: "Unfortunately, she contacted a strong virus during filming in Australia for the Ashes series.

"After support from her husband Robin and fellow Gladiators she carried on in the show until 1996, but then decided she could no longer put in 100% to the show and that it was time to retire."


Hunter (real name James Crossley) featured from series two of the show to its conclusion and was a very popular character.

The Gladiators website adds: "He is exceptional on all of the events, especially The Wall, which he has only been beaten on once, and Duel. Hunter also won The Ultimate Gladiator title in The Battle Of The Giants show against his fellow male Gladiators in 1999. A true Gladiator at heart!"

After Gladiators presented his own television fitness show called 'Peak Performance' which was broadcast on ITV2.

As well as that Crossley appeared in a number of plays including working for Sir Peter Hall for two years in the UK and USA in Shakespeare's As You Like It.

Nowadays he runs Chelsea Fitness, a personal training and fitness consultancy in London and Marbella with fellow Gladiator Ace.

Gladiators airs on Saturday evenings on BBC One and on BBC iPlayer.