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Gladiators Star Cobra On Behind-The-Scenes Secrets Of 90s TV Classic

Gladiators Star Cobra On Behind-The-Scenes Secrets Of 90s TV Classic

"Contenderrrrrr - readyyyyy! Gladiatorrrrrr - readyyyyy! Three, two, one..."

Sound familiar? For a generation of kids in the 90s, it bloody well should do - it was the most recognisable cry of arguably the most entertaining bit of Saturday night telly going.

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But it would seem that some of those concerned really were 'ready' in more ways than one, after former Gladiators star Cobra lifted the lid on some of the late-night antics that the 'young single fellas' got up to.

Speaking to The Mirror in an exclusive interview, Cobra - real name Michael Willson - said: "There were loads of [offscreen romances]. Not so much for me, but... the room next to me was noisy. Every now and again there was a bit of banging on the walls."

Cobra back in the day. Credit: ITV
Cobra back in the day. Credit: ITV

Michael, now 55, went on to say: "A lot of them were in relationships, but there were a couple of young single fellas there [who did alright for themselves]."

The popular ITV show launched in 1992 with Cobra being an OG alongside other big names such as Jet, Lightning, Shadow and Wolf.

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Michael, who recently had hip surgery, revealed that his eight-series run saw its fair share of booze and parties.

Gladiators presenter Ulrika Jonsson getting a lift from Cobra and Warrior. Credit: PA
Gladiators presenter Ulrika Jonsson getting a lift from Cobra and Warrior. Credit: PA

He added: "I was mucking about pranking, I had so much fun.

"It was brilliant - I was with a lot of mates with similar interests, we were all similar age, it was fun. There were end-of-show parties, when we had international Gladiators come over, we would be up all night boozing.

"We never had to drive anywhere, we had hospitality twice a day... so there would be wine and booze and stuff flowing."

But with flowing alcohol comes the danger of overdoing it, something with Michael claims he experienced.

Lightning, Jet and Scorpio, of the ITV series Gladiators. Credit: PA
Lightning, Jet and Scorpio, of the ITV series Gladiators. Credit: PA

"I used to drink too much during the first three years," he admitted. "We didn't know whether we would be asked back, so we would party.

"Ironically, I never used to drink a drop before I was on Gladiators. We used to have a school report and go in and see producers and they would say, 'You've been drinking too much, partying too much.'"

According to Michael there was a dark side to the show as he claimed that producers knew that co-star Shadow (real name Jefferson King) had a serious drug problem.

Michael claims that Gladiators producers knew about Shadow's (pictured) drug problem. Credit: ITV
Michael claims that Gladiators producers knew about Shadow's (pictured) drug problem. Credit: ITV

He told The Mirror: "They knew he was doing cocaine and steroids for six months and they turned a blind eye to it.

"He was a big star - it was a TV show, not the Olympics, although we were being drug tested by the same people who did Olympians. They [the producers] said to the drug testers that they were going to get him help.

"They built him up to be such a big star, there was so much pressure on him."

LADbible has reached out to ITV for comment.

Featured Image Credit: ITV

Topics: Entertainment, TV and Film

Rebecca Shepherd

I'm Becky - a journalist at LADbible. I graduated with a First Class BA in Journalism before going on to cover criminal court cases, medical tribunals and breaking news for the national media - which inevitably and eventually became as glum as it sounds. Can often be found rocking a bag for life - which I made a 'thing' way before Rihanna. You can contact me at [email protected]

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