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Gladiators star Wolf has brutally honest take on new BBC reboot of show

Gladiators star Wolf has brutally honest take on new BBC reboot of show

The 90s body-builder took a swipe at newbie Viper

The brand new reboot of legendary 1990s physical-endurance television series Gladiators is set to take to our television screens in a matter of days.

The original series - an adaptation of the American TV show of the same premise - was first broadcast in October 1992, a staggering 31 years ago, and ran for eight years until January 2000.

The sports entertainment was fronted by fan-favourite presenter Ulrika Jonsson and her assistants John Fashanu (between 1992-96 and 1999-2000), and Jeremy Guscott (between 1997-1998).

Commentated by John Sachs and refereed by John Anderson, the show fast became a favourite amongst 90s telly-lovers for it's staggering physical challenges, utterly ripped contestants and, let's face it, iconically ugly outfits.

In fact, Gladiators had such a die-hard fan-base than many viewers were devastated when the series came to an end due to falling ratings.

Back in July 2022, however, the BBC was said to be in talks with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who hold the rights to the original format, about a relaunch.

Wolf in Gladiators back in 1994.
Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

And last year, the broadcaster announced that Bradley Walsh - much-loved presenter of ITV's The Chase - would be hosting the show alongside his son, Barney.

But it sounds as though not everyone is overjoyed to see the hit series returning to our screens.

In fact, former gladiator Wolf has taken a brutal swipe at the reboot, whilst hinting that - despite being 70-years-old - he would have returned to the show if he'd been asked.

"No disrespect to the new Gladiators but there’s a lot more competition now with streaming and social media," the gladiator, whose real name is Michael Van Wijk, told the Radio Times this week.

"We pulled in 13 million viewers at our peak. They’ll have difficulty matching that."

Michael Van Wijk, known as Wolf, appeared on the show in the 90s.
George Bodnar/Comic Relief via Getty Images

The ex on-screen bodybuilder - who was known for his 'bad-boy' persona before emigrating to New Zealand when the series ended - was also asked if he would ever go back on the show.

"I wouldn’t mind," Van Wijk replied. "I still work out five days a week, lifting weights with guys half my age. I could do Gladiators tomorrow."

Since the reboot was confirmed, the brand new line-up of gladiators have been revealed one-by-one across several BBC news outlets.

Van Wijk also took the opportunity to poke fun at Gladiators newbie Viper - also known as Quang Luong - claiming he's almost identical to his character Wolf.

"A carbon copy!" he teased. "Well, somebody has to be the baddie. It’s flattering; I guess they know how popular Wolf was."

The new cast of Gladiators.

Overall, Van Wijk claims he's happy to see the show returning, but added that he wishes his own son - reportedly also a body-builder - had joined the line-up.

"I’ll be interested to see it," he admitted. "I live in New Zealand now so I’ll have to watch it on YouTube. I’m just a bit sad my son isn’t taking part, which I would’ve loved. He’s a superb athlete and the spitting image of me.

"I thought it might add a nice layer to have Wolf’s son."

The new series of Gladiators airs Saturday 13 January on BBC One at 5.50pm.

Featured Image Credit: Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Topics: BBC, TV and Film, Celebrity