Taipan. Fury. Condor. Tower. Blade. Vulcan.
Those aren’t online gaming handles. Those were some of the aliases used by professional fitness instructors and body builders who ended up becoming ‘Gladiators’.
In 1995, Channel 7 adapted a foreign version of a sports-entertainment series that consisted of premium muscular / fit / strong competitors who fought tooth and nail to prevent a couple of challengers competiting in small to medium obstacles.
In a series of events, the challenger who scored the most points near the end of each episode got a head-start against their rival when tackling The Eliminator. The winner of each episode would re-appear in the finals, and eventually the overall winner would take home the grand final prize.
Gladiators was hosted by Kimberley Joseph and Mike Hammond (Series One was hosted by Aaron Pedersen) alongside Referee Mike Whitney (Series One was reffed by John Alexander) and filmed at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, surrounded by a live audience. The show stretched out over three series, including themed specials such as The Ashes where it was Australia vs The UK, Individual Sports and Team Sports, as well as going head-to-head with Russia.
The Gladiators themselves had added and withdrew contenders over the series – whether they pulled out from injury or had some alleged scandal fall upon them.
When the show disappeared in 1997, the concept was rebooted in 2008 with an all-new cast, but only lasted one series.
While there has not been an official media release – other than a VHS compilation of Series One, someone has blessed the internets and posted great quality episodes on YouTube. So get crackin’ before you’re knocked off the suspension bridge.
Spin-offs and Specials.